Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Metaphor -- Sort Of. . .

This is the situation: not only am I running late, but I'm also spinning my wheels. 

I've decided to think of my predicament as a CD. Let me explain. You may have noticed that on a CD the mix of music usually flows something like this: "Wow!, Let's Slow Down, Boring, Wow!, Boring, Boring, Not Bad, Wow! and Great," for example. I think it's called pacing or something like that. 

Are you still with me? My point, you may be asking yourself? OK. I think yesterday's post, unfortunately only the introduction written by moi meme, was a definite "Wow!/Great" on the metaphorical CD. Today therefore I'm obliged to bring us down off of that stimulating high. Too much excitement and pleasure could be detrimental to one's mental well-being.

I hate being in this position, but I have no choice. I'll keep it short.

An Instructional Video


One of my very, very best friends sent this to me. She is not only brilliant, but also perhaps the funniest person I have ever met. When we get to a certain certain age we plan to buy a duplex together. We haven't decided where, we have yet to negotiate the detail about snow, no snow, a little snow, etc. She is standing firm, and I agree with her completely, on two essential, non-negotiable considerations for our gilded golden years: "a hairdresser within walker walking distance and a friendly neighborhood saloon where we are on a first name basis with the owner."

A demain with on-the-street photos from Paris.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dressing Up & Staying In: Part IV

Katherine Hepburn at home with Spencer Tracy, proving the question lounge wear versus seduction wear may be moot.

Take out your Kleenex before you begin reading Chapter Four of our "Dressing Up & Staying Home" saga. If you have yet to apply mascara, hold off.

Perhaps if you are a member of the tribe to which the author, Lisa, of Amid Privilege belongs -- les High WASPs -- you may instead whip out your monogrammed Irish linen handkerchief (probably the only thing you own from that country unless someone has given you a Waterford decanter or two).

Prepare to weep with laughter.

My inclination as the introduction to anything conceived (sorry about the word choice Lisa) and written by the sublimely brilliant, funny, thoughtful Lisa would be to gush, but WASPs don't gush. It's not in their DNA. And they tend not to trust the gusher.

Let me say however: Seriously, Lisa, job well done, bravo. Does that work?

Oh, yes, she writes like a dream -- a tad intimidating actually. 

You will love this, of that I am sure. If you're looking for a daily dose, you know where to find her, Amid Privilege. Where else?


Katherine Hepburn in lounge position.

Hello, all of Tish's wonderful readers. I am here to add my two cents on sleepwear vs.loungewear vs. seductionwear. There's only one problem. My culture of origin doesn't believe in seduction.

That's right. High WASPs don't seduce. They don't even say the word. And Sturdy Gals, my subspecies, do so least of all.

If you wonder, what on earth I mean by a Sturdy Gal, the queen of our tribe is Katherine Hepburn. We wear trousers and flat shoes. We fall in love on rivers in Africa. We have good upper body strength, and are apt to remember to bring the cheese grater.

So let's just move straight to sleeping and lounging. Imagine the Sturdy Gal, hair clean, pulled back in a scrunchie, reading glasses perched on her nose. It's early spring. Still a little chilly. What will we find?

Sturdy Gals come in several subspecies. The New Englander shops at the Vermont Country Store, or Sierra Trading Post. No robe needed. Just repurpose a fleece. It's cold up there. Puppy required.

The Californian shops at Garnet Hill, of course. For organic cotton. Her Artsy sister gave her these ballet shoe slippers but the straps annoyed. Soon exchanged for Garnet Hill mules. As long as they fit.

The Urban Gal picks up her PJs anywhere. Old Navy makes the best cheap flannel. Her tee is apt to display some sort of art. In the city, a little cools rubs off even on the sturdy. Everything's gray. Cities overwhelm us with the visual, we keep it very quiet, at home.

All Sturdy Gal sub-species abhor shorties. The whole point of a nightgown is to be able to curl your feet up into a voluminous tent, for warmth and comfort.

But, you might ask, how then do Sturdy Gals find love? How then do Sturdy Gals propagate the species? Simple.

We take our clothes off, having never found that it required much more than that to engage the interest of our male counterparts. We take our clothes off, and perhaps, if we are kicking the project into high gear, we walk across the room.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dressing Up & Staying In: Part III

Myrna Loy, in a dressing gown and a "come hither" look. Surely she's staying home.

Our bedtime story continues. Chapter three is by Stacey, the talented writer and creator of the sumptuous blog, Quintessence.

Her writing, like her impeccable taste is stylish and polished. You'll see when you click over.

It's interesting when we think of sleep wear, seduction wear and lounge wear we tend to think of the glamour portrayed in the films from the 40s and 50s, maybe even the 60s. I have the impression we're all yearning for a sprinkle of that stardust.

Glamour is such a pleasurable, almost effortless adventure. But, if there were no effort, no preparation, no anticipation it wouldn't be quite as much fun. 

Below Stacey tells you about her ideas on the subject, with an intriguing aside in the conversation: empowerment through lingerie. Read on. . .


Lacy, luxe pieces from Net-A-Porter.

I was very flattered that Tish, who lives in the epicenter of all things relating to romance and seduction, asked me to weigh in on the question of the difference between sleep wear, seduction wear and lounge wear. And it was particularly propitious considering that I recently participated in a girls' day-out in downtown NYC on a lingerie shopping trip. We visited several stores from the edgy l'Agent Provocateur to my favorite village destination La Petite Coquette, which carries a wide range of every possible type of lingerie.
 The question of bedroom attire is certainly an interesting one and one which we discussed that day. The consensus was that while our men certainly appreciate our efforts in terms of choosing enticing undergarments, most of these pieces are bought for our own enjoyment. 

Just as looking stylish and elegant on the outside is important to most of us, lovely lingerie can give the same sense of confidence and even more important, empowerment. The secret knowledge that what we have on underneath is flattering and stylish is a huge boost to one's ego on the street as well as in the bedroom. And as we all know, confidence is a very sexy quality. 

Crisp, sophisticated pajamas from Leron, the renowned maker of beautiful linens.

Cozy chic. Silk robe from Leron.

However, I must add that once the lingerie has been unveiled, my preference in sleep attire falls into an entirely different category - one much more about comfort. I am always cold and my sleep wear of choice (unless it's the middle of summer) involves sleeves and legs. I love classic men's pajamas, cut for a woman. I own many different pairs, all tailored, several made of the same great cotton used by English shirt makers. 

Out of the bath into this pristinely pretty waffle robe from Matouk is pure luxury.

Think Katherine Hepburn or Myrna Loy in the Thin Man - they might have slept in such pajamas. And just as climbing into crisp clean cotton sheets at night is a delight, so is putting on a pair of freshly ironed cotton pajamas. As for loungewear, if such a thing exists, I don't own any - if I am not wearing what I've worn during the day, I  am in my pajamas with one of several robes on top, from a beautiful cashmere to a stylish checked flannel or crisp matching cotton. Because you can be stylish and comfortable at the same time and sexy when it counts - for him but more importantly for yourself!

Monday, March 28, 2011

News & Views, This & That

Le Bouledogue Français.

My life is full of missions. One of the most important on my "Missions: To-Do" list is to keep you, not up to the minute on the latest and the greatest, but rather up to the nano second.

If one doesn't get in on IN when it's in then obviously in is OUT. I admit some trends have endurance, others have a nano second expiration date (we try to avoid them, they tend to be costly, silly and have been known to cause severe bouts of post purchase guilt), and still others are eternal. 

We're not here today to discuss eternity.

Oh yes, and then of course, there are those of us who find the entire subject ridiculous. But, we're not here today to discuss that aspect of the debate either.

Let's get on with it shall we? Since it's a mixed bag, headlines oblige.

The New Hot Dog

The French Bulldog.

Everywhere I turn -- city and country -- I'm seeing French bulldogs on the other ends of red, green or blue harnesses attached to chicly color-coordinated leashes. (We're in France where accessorizing is one of the human species most highly developed instincts.)

In the winter they're clad for the cold. They're a delicate though hilarious breed I'm told. They also appreciate air conditioning in the summer. Hmmm, demanding little devils. It's a good thing they're so cute.

Le Jack Russell.

Not long ago, one couldn't walk three meters in Paris and not almost trip over a Jack Russell. They're still there of course, but for the first time they've got some major canine competition.

As I mentioned recently Edouard, "Eddie," a chubby young French bulldog is one of our newest neighbors. His owner says he's "muscular" not chubby. All I know is, he's heavy. I have often carried him home when he visits our "girls" on the other side of our fence. He is also beyond adorable. He licks my chin from lift-up to delivery chez lui.

Always Interesting

Mere et fille.

Have you ever wondered what Marion Cotillard's mother looks like? 

I suppose not. It never occurred to me to think about it either. However, when one comes across a picture of the mother and daughter together, then we're interested. Right?

In case you agree, here's Marion with her 58-year-old mother, Niseema Theillaud. 

She's "Special" As In the French Translation

Combinaison in silk serge from Céline; fur bolero from YSL; silk turban, Stephen Jones.

One tends not to be lukewarm about Tilda Swinton. She is indeed special as in "apart, different, unique" and then the imagination takes off and provides other adjectives. Unlike an American, for example, who when using the word usually means something like "wonderful!" and it is not accompanied with an expression of eye rolls implying something perhaps bizarrely off-kilter.

My-Reason-For-Living-In-France can't understand why when we Americans like something we can't come up with any other word than "wonderful!". He maintains, "It's not normal."

Back on subject: In this week's French Elle, Tilda Swinton Rejoue Madame Gres, in other words she's wearing contemporary designers' works that include lots of draping for which Madame Gres is, was and always will be remembered.

This photograph by Jean-Baptiste Mondino is entitled: "Deesse Hollywoodienne," (Hollywood Goddess).

She appears icily beautiful, but that's not why I'm showing you the page. Contrary to what you may think, she is not wearing white gloves. Her arms are painted white. In another picture where she portrays "Femme Flamme" her fingertips have been dipped in blood red paint. Sort of creepy special I think.

Swinton -- like her or not -- does have enviable aristocratic bone structure.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

Our time changed today amid controversy and debates about the benefits of daylight savings. Almost everything is up for debate in France. 

My position: I'm thrilled with one more hour of sunlight. 

OK, that was off subject. 

On the agenda for the week ahead:

1.) News & Views, Etc.

2.) Part three of the series "Dressing Up & Staying In" 

3.) Part four of the series "Dressing Up & Staying In"

4.) Surprise: You know what that means. Exactly. Moi non plus. (Neither do I.)

5.) On-the-Streets of Paris.

6.) On-the Streets of the Country. 

7.) La Semaine Prochaine briefing.

Yet again, the sun refuses to cooperate with the forecasts for rain.

Hope you're doing something that makes you happy today. We are. We're invited to a dinner party at my best French friend's house. She is the consummate hostess. I'll take my camera.


A demain.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Country Life -- On-the-Street

It's true, more time and energy went into my photography in Paris this week. 

But I did try to take a picture of a stunning geese couple, not a couple of geese, but a couple. Or would that be a goose couple? Do weigh in.

As you enter into the village where we live there is a large fishing pond nestled at the foot of a small hill. Every day for the past three weeks the handsome duo has been in exactly the same spot eating and chatting. My goal is to photograph them for you. 

Their goal yesterday was to get away from me as fast as their little legs would carry them. They didn't feel the effort of lift-off and take-off was necessary knowing instinctively they were faster than I am scuttling up a hill with a camera and a huge tote. They didn't see the point in wasting that extra energy. 

They were probably laughing.

I shall not give up. 

Rain is forecast, but the sun is not cooperating. I hope you have sunshine for your weekend.

A demain.

Friday, March 25, 2011

On The Streets of Paris

What can I say? How is it possible not to be passionately in love with Paris?

Most of the women I saw on the streets this week were still wearing their winter wardrobes, but coats were left unbuttoned or put aside in favor of blazers and short jackets. And best of all, skirts and dresses are slowly beginning to reappear.

Another hot trend: smiles. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This & That + A Major Diet Trick

Skirt from Jil Sander, page from French Elle, photographed by Marcin Tyszka.

As I sit here, not at all hungry, on my sixth day of eating with Dr. Dukan, I've read and been told that the translation of his book, or rather the merit of his regime, now also in English, is causing quite the stir in the United States. (I haven't heard about a fuss being raised in other English language countries. Could be wrong. It's happened before.)

You know how I feel about his ideas and I do love his pseudo crepe for breakfast. I actually leap out of bed to eat it, and that's saying something. It's delicious. On that point I admit, I have friends who do not agree. (If you own a horse, I'm sure he or she would concur.)

But, never mind diets. In fact, some of the magazines have been telling us they're passé -- more about that another day -- I have a fast, easy, efficient way to appear to lose weight and look like a long, tall drink of water. 

It's called vertical lines.  

As luck would have it, from the Jil Sander spring/summer collection we have two major choices: the dress if the arms are still good (notice it barely touches the body, and the length. . .) and the long black and white skirt. The beauty of the skirt is we're covered to our ankles and we can choose the appropriate top according to whatever our hang-ups happen to be, or not to be.

The Other Choice

For those of you who either wouldn't dream of wearing a jeans shirt, or already own one or more and you're covered, the other major blouse option for summer (we'll be back to this subject later as well) is light, pretty and feminine. 

Case in point, the one Robin Wright (no longer Penn) is wearing in this Gerard Darel ad.

I can see it with above mentioned skirt.

Sweet On Your Feet

From the top: The Vichy pattern makes one think of Brigitte Bardot, non? From Andre and a mere 39 Euros. If you want to show off your pedicure, the A.P.C. slippers are just the ticket, 130 Euros. And the woven Atelier Mercadal model -- the boondoggle/woven business is VERY big this season, we know this because Prada is doing it. These shoes, 160 Euros.

Three pairs of -- what else (?) -- ballerinas for warm weather. Not one is from Repetto. I restrained myself.

I'm off to Paris. Tomorrow you'll see what I found for you on the sunny streets.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dressing Up & Staying In: Part II

Carole Lombard, dressed up, covered up, & obviously planning to stay in.

Two words come to mind when thinking about beautiful nighttime lingerie: luxury and romance. 

What more could any woman wish from a swath of silk, satin and lace than all the promises it holds in its ethereal lightness? 

Lovely lingerie, often underrated and sometimes neglected, has found its advocates in this series. Here then is part two of a collective attempt to present varied arguments in favor of dressing up and staying home. 

As I've mentioned, I've asked my glam gal pals to weigh in on the subject. 

Today, Marsi, one of my dearest friends and creator of Luxebytes -- the name gives you an idea of her expertise in identifying true luxury and then treating it as it should be -- tells us what she thinks. Marsi does not believe more is best, she believes best is best and she chooses her luxuries with the eye of a curator.

Marsi also knows how to write. When you visit her you'll not only be treated to her writing style, but also her lifestyle. Every time you read her blog you will learn something you can use, which I think is a great luxury.

Satin and lace from Sally Jones.

Whenever I see a gorgeous peignoir or floaty nightgown, a shiver zigzags through my body -- not because I can't get enough of the sumptuous silks and chiffons, the feminine folds and frills, or the soft, delicate lace. No, I literally shiver because the thought of wearing these precious little nothings makes my blood run cold. You see, I live at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, where, despite our 300 days of sunshine a year, we enjoy a rather cold climate.

Photograph, "Snow on the Flatirons" by Thomas Mangan.

It's even colder when you reduce your household energy consumption by dialing down the thermostat to Carter Administration levels, thus making pretty sleepwear and loungewear a fantasy best left on the padded hanger. And while cozy and warm, flannel pajamas are about as sexy as ... well ... flannel pajamas.

So what's the snappy dresser (that's vous) to do in le boudoir if she wants to maintain her style and body heat? Why not give yourself (and himself) the best of both worlds and top your flirty nightie with a luscious cashmere robe?

Loro Piana from Neiman-Marcus.

Even at the super-low, low sale price of $2,700 (!!), this mink-trimmed Loro Piana cashmere wrap is a to-die-for luxury that most of us can only dream of, but here's a down-to-earth option from Restoration Hardware, available each year during the holiday season for just $250, that'll make you feel every bit as posh, sensuous, and warm.

Restoration Hardware cashmere robes. Who knew?

Come October, it's going to be at the top of my shopping list, too.

Dressing Up & Staying In: Part I

Jean Harlow, preparing not to go out.

It all started innocently enough. A charming woman wrote in the comments section herein that she had been divorced for 20 years and was soon to be a new bride. During those 20 years she had been sleeping in pajamas (she's not the only one btw) and was musing/wondering whether she should re-think her nightwear.

Feeling somewhat out of my depth, I asked a few of my great, glam pals to weigh-in on the subject. 

To each, I posed the following question: What is the difference among sleep wear, seduction wear and lounge wear (if the latter even exists today)? 

I find the subject fascinating and the series will have several parts, all from distinctly different perspectives, all from exceptional women. 

Today, Deja Pseu, creator of the archly witty and intelligent blog Une Femme, debuts the series focusing her impeccable fashion eye on the subject. She tells us not only what and why, but also how -- as in how to take care of pretty little things. Pseu writes beautifully and always takes us in unexpected directions when she approaches a subject. You'll see here and when you visit her chez elle

Merci Pseu.


When Tish asked me to weigh in on the topic of "Seduction Wear vs. Sleep Wear vs. Loungewear," I thought I'd start by asking le monsieur for a view from the male perspective.  His response: "We don't care what you wear to sleep in, we just care what you wear to bed."  Well.  

Creamy silk pajamas, just add Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, from Wintersilks.

While there may be times that call for the full Fredericks of Hollywood  treatment, in those situations comfort is irrelevant as those pieces generally aren't worn for an extended period of time. ;-) But in between naughty-wear and oversized cartoon character sleep shirts, there's a middle ground I think of as allure, and it's achievable on a regular basisYou can find sleepwear that's comfortable, yet pretty enough to garner some favorable attention from that person on the other side of the bed.

Simply perfect from Mary Green.

Little slips with a touch of lace from Julianna Butterfield.

Silk is my first choice for sleepwear, especially silk charmeuse.  It has that Jean-Harlow-in-a-dressing-gown glamour and, except during the warmest weather, is comfortable and breathable for sleep. You don't have to pay La Perla prices either to get some nice silk nighties. This nightgown from Mary Green is a pretty choice. If lace bothers you, go for a plain chemise like this one, also from Mary Green. The Juliana Ray "Butterfield" chemise is a nice option if you prefer something a bit longer. 

If pajamas are your thing, these 
silk charmeuse pajamas from are great for those cooler nights. Think Myrna Loy and mix yourself a martini.

It's cotton (!) "Cool Nights" from Soma.

Silk can be washed in the machine on the gentle cycle (preferably in a lingerie bag, no Woolite) and hung to dry. It generally will dry in a few hours and so is great for travel.  But if you're one of those people who finds even lightweight silk too warm to sleep in, the "Cool Nights" pieces from Soma are another alternative.  I haven't tried these myself, but some of my "warmer" family members have recommended. 

It's my firm belief that we don't have to choose between pretty and comfortable, and what we wear to bed is no exception.

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