Wednesday, August 19, 2009

If Only I Had Known. . . Part II

The other half of the best (well, way up there on the list anyway) outfit I've ever owned is the jacket that turns the pants from last Wednesday's post into a perfect, pulled-together, go-anywhere suit.

My favorite journalism professor always said every time you refer back to a story you have to apply the "desert island principle" which is to say I have to assume that many of you are not aware of last week's paean to my navy blue silk suit.  En bref (briefly), as the French would say: It turned into one of those wardrobe miracles that arrive in one's life unannounced and every time we don't know what to wear, there it is. You don't know it when you buy it, no matter how much you loved it, but once you own it you can't stop wearing it. Actually, that's theoretically what we're all hoping to find every time we hand over a credit card for particularly pricey pieces. (This was particularly pricey, but it's paid for itself a hundred times over while other big ticket items hang next to it unworn.)

Last week I separated the pants from the jacket to show the zillions -- ahem -- ways they can be worn separately. As promised, with Edith's drawings, here are many, many ways (you see, I can restrain myself from non-stop exaggeration even though my-reason-for-living-in-France says I'm an "excessive") the jacket can be worn on its own.

See what the jacket can do:

1.) With my gorgeous -- I'll say it again, gorgeous -- Chanel vanilla silk crepe evening skirt. (Before you get worked up: The skirt cost considerably less than the navy suit because I bought it in the good old days when I was invited to the private Chanel sales in a warehouse someplace or other where one stands in line in the rain with thousands -- no exaggeration -- of vicious women waiting to ripe clothes out of the hands of other vicious women. At one of those sales I found a stunning navy turtleneck when I stepped on it and almost broke my leg.)

2.) A simple red dress or a brightly color shirt with a matching top to keep the chic line flowing.

3.) With a grey turtleneck sweater and gray flannel pants, equally pretty with grey flannel pencil skirt and opaque tights.

4.) White linen pants and, and what is that I see there? Yes it is our marinaière (forgot to ask Edith to add the creoles. . .)

5.) It works beautifully with navy pin-striped pants. I have a pair in linen and a pair in flannel which are the trousers for a navy pin-stripe suit.

6.) Any white blouses, T-shirts, Marcels, etc., etc.

7.) A navy blue skirt, but be careful it doesn't end up looking like a uniform. Try gabardine or flannel. 

8.) Ditto for navy pants. It also saves wear-and-tear on those precious matching silk trousers because they will surely fall apart before the jacket. Navy satin would be lovely for evening.

9.) Great with jeans.

10.) Big, grey crepe evening pants, masses of gray pearls, only pretty lingerie under the jacket.

11.) Big, ivory satin pants. Same as above with masses of pearls or if you can find it, a matching ivory satin tee or camisole (I found mine at the wonderful Chinese boutique I told you about last week).

12.) Fuchsia, lime, yellow, shocking pink, on and on linen pants.

13.) A Hermes scarf as a "bustier" or halter top and then choose the bottom accompaniment accordingly. 

14.) Pastel shirts (not t-shirts, no, no, no) and striped shirts in crisp poplin, collar turned up of course.

15.) All sorts of pretty camisoles and bustiers if you dare and you don't brim over -- you know the drill.

A bonus once you've identified this wonder of wonders as the best thing you've ever bought: You can start building around it and making it more and more valuable. Non-stop fun. . .

As I mentioned previously, but you know how it goes with me: If I refer to something twice I see no reason not to repeat it 10 times; if you discover quickly that you've bought a rare-in-a-lifetime outfit, rush back and buy a second bottom. I was too late and too dumb to act on that advice. And as you know my raison d'etre is to save you from my errors.


anotherviewer said...

I just found your blog. What can I say -- je l'adore!

Please keep the polls coming. I for one would like to know the trucs your friends rely on to keep their weight down during the midlife years. We always hear that
European women do not participate in formal exercise. Is this true? I assume you are not the only person at your water aerobics class. LOL.

Also, you have shared what these femmes eat for breakfast and the occasional snack but what about lunch and dinner? What would a typical meal be?

My cousin lived in France several years ago and told me that lunch was the main meal of the day with several courses, while dinner was much lighter fare such as soup and salad. Is this still the norm?

I spent some time in Russia and this was definately how the meals were structured.

Please keep your observations coming!

Mille mercis

knitpurl said...

Totally valuable per usual. Yes, no tee shirts (only w/jeans and definitely a different jacket); will purchase more shirts. Your white shirt post earlier this week was also invaluable. When you run out of material (probably never), you can entertain us with the couture sales.

Edith's drawings are awesome. (Thank you again Edith.)

tishjett said...

Hello "Anotherviewer" -- and one who speaks French?

I'm impressed and pleased you found me.

To answer your questions: It's hard work to keep their weight under control, but they figure it's worth it. You're right generally speaking about "working out." Lots of walking, aqua gym classes, yoga and I have a few friends who go once a week to an exercise class taught by a dance teacher. Some women have started to talk about Pilates. I'll keep you posted.

The reason why I haven't done dinner is because it's more complicated. It depends upon one's lifestyle. The other day Edith, a doctor friend (woman) and I were having this very same conversation. Edith who works from home with her painting and her husband is home for lunch makes that their major meal with a light dinner.

Caroline who has three young children has a more "important" evening meal because she assumes her children haven't had a proper lunch and she and her husband, also a doctor, tend to grab a salad or a sandwich and go back to their patients.

One trick for the weight-watching Frenchwomen is to always start a meal with a salad, soup or perhaps melon in the summer to cut their appetites immediately on a course with minimal calories.

Then there are women who eat differently if they're alone. And of course there are dinner parties which have nothing to do with the daily meal.

Maybe I should break this apart and see what I can come up with for a survey?

Thank you again. I look forward to your comments.

tishjett said...

Yes, Carole, have some EXCITING (!!!) posts coming up for fall/winter with Edith. You'll tell me what you think.

I'll tell Edith in Summer Camp tomorrow what you said. She claims she loves doing these drawings -- lucky me.

Bonjour Madame said...

I'm thinking you need to take your existing pants to a very good tailor and have them make you another pair. I doubt the fabric could match exactly but if it's the fit you love, you could get a similar fit. Maybe? And I just rambling? Of course I've never done this myself but I've heard some people do.

Your Chanel sale experience sounds kind of exciting. I saw some pictures of the Hermes sale this year and it looked similar to what you describe.

Marsi said...

Another print-worthy post for my collection of articles. Amazing how much punch you get out of one simple jacket! The pairing with the sweeping Chanel skirt is inspired.

I'm so happy every time I see Edith's illustrations.

Marsi said...

P.S. I am really, really trying to make soup/salad as a first course for dinner. I've heard your advice about it so many times over the years, Tish, and can't think of any excuse for not doing it. I roasted two chickens the other night, pulled the meat off, and used the carcasses to make 30 cups of chicken stock. Is there any reason at all I can't measure out 4 cups, saute an onion and garlic clove in a little olive oil, and throw in whatever I find in the fridge (whether it's vegetables, wild rice, or leftover chicken)? Well, no. No reason at all.

tishjett said...


I wish I lived next door to you, no change that I wish you lived next door to me. . . Then I would pop over chez toi and ask if I could "borrow" a couple of cups of homemade chicken broth. I'm truly, truly impressed.

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