Friday, September 19, 2014

The Art of the Table (Courtesy of My Mother and Valentino)

A table setting by my mother.

I celebrated my birthday last month at my parents’ house in Virginia and my mother was kind enough to set a beautiful—and impromptu—dinner table. I like to joke that I am missing the decorating gene but I certainly appreciate the art of the table and the work involved in bringing all the lovely pieces together in harmony. My mother asked me what I wanted the table to look like and I just said gold and glamorous. I can’t help it. By time August rolls around every year I want everything to look like a gold sequin. It must be the summer heat.


I love these glittering gold candles...

...and the red and gold candle holders! Both are by MacKenzie-Childs.

I do adore a bit of tulle.

Spoon in the prosecco to keep it bubbly. I learned that from Dorie Greenspan.

My mother set the table with her very pretty Noritake china in the Miyoshi pattern and Lenox etched crystal wine glasses, in a pattern called Navarre. I loved the colors of these Alstroemerias and of course no birthday dinner is complete without prosecco! We picked up a bottle of one of my favorites, Lamarca. I don’t know if the ol’ trick of putting a silver spoon inside the bottle actually does extend the life of the bubbles, but I learned this tip from none other than Dorie Greenspan, who noticed Paris waiters did the same with opened bottles of champagne in restaurants. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me!

I don’t own any china at all and have a limited collection of crystal wine glasses so the opportunity to share in the beauty of these wonderful pieces of tableware felt like such a treat. They add to the pleasure of sharing a meal with family!

I am also crazy for chandeliers!

The back and front cover of Valentino: At the Emperor’s Table.

My mother recently told me of a book she learned will be published in October, Valentino: At the Emperor’s Table. It looks like a stunning (and gigantic!) book, based on the pictures available for view at Amazon. It also reminds me of what Oprah once said on her show about the couturier: “Nobody lives like Valentino.” He loves a fancy table as much as my mother does (me too, for that matter). Isn’t this setting gorgeous?

I especially love the green rims of these glasses.

At Valentino’s Swiss ski chalet in Gstaad!

Valentino is also famously a fan of pugs. I believe he owns five, although it was six at one time. I love a pug myself so it was nice to have this crazy dog in attendance at my birthday dinner:

Valentino and I both love pugs.

His name is Stewie and he belongs to my brother and his wife and is constantly in trouble, which is why I like him so much. Also, he has the longest legs I have ever seen on a pug. I tell my brother all the time he should make Stewie a dog model!

Do you like pugs or fancy table settings? Do you own china or crystal wine glasses? Do you use them often or for special occasions only? Tell me everything!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Charlotte Olympia Kitty Flats

Charlotte Olympia Kitty Flats in purple velvet with crystal eyes!

Last fall I saw a drop-dead gorgeous Asian gal with long glossy black hair wearing a black fur gilet, black leather leggings, and gorgeous cobalt blue satin Charlotte Olympia Kitty flats. It was a perfect outfit for one of those crisp but sunny fall days in the city! She was standing outside the midtown Manhattan studio where my son takes ballroom classes and I had some time to kill so I couldn’t resist asking this beautiful girl about her beautiful shoes.

She told me that they were indeed Charlotte Olympia, which I had guessed, and that they were really comfortable. I decided to get kind of personal and said, “Can I ask, did you get them on sale or did you pay full retail?”

She didn’t bat an eye at my forwardness. “Full retail. If you wait until a sale all the good colors are gone and they never have your size.”

I had to laugh at her answer and her honesty. It’s true, if you are gone on something sometimes it does not pay to wait for it to go on sale because if you do, you run the risk of finding the thing you love long departed and you may be forever looking for it on eBay to see if you can find it again. This has happened to me!

I am smitten by the spiderweb detail on the front of the box.

I have found that the girl was right—I have been keeping my eye out for Charlotte Olympia flats on sale (her high heels are just too high for me) but they never have my size, in any style, and the Kitty shoes never make it to the sales. I had given up on owning a pair since I decided I was not going to pay the full retail price. I am saving for other things!

So I could not believe my utter luck in finding this pair of Charlotte Olympia Kitty flats in purple velvet with gold heels and crystal eyes, on steep sale and in my size, at Neiman Marcus online over the summer. What are the odds? Actually, I can tell you. They are quite low. These shoes are from Fall 2013 but I don’t care, purple velvet never goes out of style! They are so well-made and gorgeous. They go with jeans and black pants and I think I will get a lot of use out of them. With my affinity for cats (Is it because I’m a Leo or because I own a cat? Or both?), I can’t help being a fan of Charlotte Olympia’s Kitty line.

I also love the gold heel.

A Polaroid is included to affix to the outside of the box so you know what’s inside!

This cat was made for walking.

Here kitty kitty!

I can also see my cat-obsessed daughter falling hard for these shoes. I won’t be surprised to find her click-clacking around the house in them!

Have you ever scored an item on your fashion wish list on sale? Tell me all about your purchase!

Friday, September 12, 2014

11 W. 30 St. Inc. Brooch

A lovely brooch by 11 W. 30 St. Inc.!

There’s a great thrift shop not far from my apartment where I have had good luck finding colorful brooches. On a recent trip with my daughter our eyes both went straight to this blue beauty. It was just $14. Sold!

When I’m looking at a brooch I have two criteria to meet before making a purchase: 1. Do I love it? 2. Does it have all its stones? One of the many terrific things I learned from attending the exhibit Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger—and learned from Barbara herself!—is that you have to make sure all the stones are intact before buying anything since she said it’s difficult, if not impossible, to replace missing stones.

Barbara also spoke of only buying pieces you love and it was definitely love at first sight when I spied this brooch in the case so I was happy to see that every stone was in place. My daughter loves blue more than any other color so I knew even if I hesitated to buy it, she was not going to let me leave this pin behind!

In sunlight. Gorgeous!

In addition to the color, I liked the victory wreath motif of the brooch, which seemed old school to me. Turns out I was right. Upon very close inspection involving a loupe, I found that the brooch was signed “11 W 30 ST INC.” Internet research turned up that this company was founded by William Dodds of Newark, NJ. He already had a successful plastics business but decided to start a costume jewelry-making enterprise with a partner and they called the company “Jewel Creations.” The manufacturing site was at—you guessed it—11 W. 30th Street. Whether this means it was in Newark, or, as I first thought, in Manhattan, I don’t know. The article says Mr. Dodds took over the entire business in the 1960s and after that all the pieces were signed “Dodds” or “Doddz.” Fascinating!

The back of the brooch.

The signature.

I believe these navette stones are called aurora borealis because of their iridescent rainbow hue. The same writer of the information above had a whole separate article just on aurora borealis stones and I learned that this technique of coating the rhinestones with a thin layer of metal to enhance their brilliance and give them a rainbow coloring was not perfected until 1955. Manfred Swarovski, working with Christian Dior, is the one who perfected the process, but not until after World War II when the company returned to making costume jewelry. During the war Swarovski was forced to make binoculars and optical products for the military. More interesting facts!

One way I may wear it. Cardigan, J. Crew, scarf, Hermès, sunglasses, L’Wren Scott.

I would love the brooch no matter what (for $14 how could I go wrong?), but knowing that it’s from the late 50s or early 60s makes me love it even more.

Have you had luck finding vintage costume jewelry at a thrift shop?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bridal Couture by L’Wren Scott

L'Wren Scott with friend JoJo Cohen, whose wedding dress she designed. Photo by Elizabeth Messina.

I saw an article last week in the Daily Mail about the one and only wedding dress ever designed by L’Wren Scott, who died this past march. It was commissioned by her friend JoJo Cohen and L’Wren collaborated with both milliner Stephen Jones, who made the veil, and the Royal School of Needlework in London, who embroidered the dress. The Royal School of Needlework, you may remember, also did the embroidery on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. They do stunning work.

Look at the embroidery! Photo by Elizabeth Messina.

More amazing embroidery can be seen as the bride gets help with the zipper! Photo by Elizabeth Messina.

JoJo was one beautiful bride! Photo by Elizabeth Messina.

The dress is gorgeous and appears in the current issue of Martha Stewart Weddings.

The Fall 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Weddings.

At the end of the article there was also a short video, which broke my heart, showing L’Wren’s excitement at working with the ladies of the Royal School of Needlework. It was filmed in January of this year and L’Wren seems so happy, so joyous to see the dress in its various stages of creation that I find myself, once again, at a loss to understand why she would take her life.

Instead of focusing on the way in which L’Wren died, however, I remain devoted to admiring the beauty of her work, as well as that of the supremely talented ladies of the Royal School of Needlework. Those women are divine!

You can see the Vogue video, “A Tribute to L’Wren Scott,” by clicking here.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How I Wear My: Sandals

Adrienne of The Rich Life (on a budget).

Summer may be on the wane but for many of you, the weather will continue to be hot for at least another month so Adrienne of The Rich Life (on a budget) and I wanted to give the season a proper send-off by making this month’s “How I Wear My” all about sandals.

You may recognize the outfit that Adrienne, above, wore in a recent post about the color Misted Yellow. It features a Stella Carakasi Point of Interest cardigan in saffron. She decided to give it a different spin for “How I Wear My” and paired it with blue Franco Sarto sandals. I think with the blue blouse, bag, and sandals, this is a great late summer look and Adrienne looks lovely in yellow!

Delilah of Pumps & Studz.

Delilah of Pumps & Studz wrote, “I love sandals, but specifically wedges because they give me height and are comfortable enough to wear all day.”

Delilah looks so beautiful in this ensemble—I love the dress with the black and white windowpane-print kimono over it, as well as the addition of the Fedora, a studded bag, and those wedge sandals (and the red lip). Perfection!

Cynthia of My Rose Colored Shades.

Cynthia of My Rose Colored Shades said, “I’ve been enjoying the gladiator sandals trend that’s been popular for a while. I couldn’t see myself doing the knee-high look but these shorter versions in gold became my go-to sandals all summer long.”

This look is amazing on Cynthia and I love it all, from the outfit to the bag to the jewelry, sunglasses, and gladiators. So chic!

Sheree of It’s Not That Deep.

Sheree of It’s Not That Deep offers one glamorous spin on palazzo pants. These are from TJ Maxx (wow!) and I adore how she has paired them with this long black BB Dakota vest and flat black sandals. Sigh, I wish Sheree was my personal stylist!

A photo of Teresa by her husband, photographer Denton Taylor.

Teresa is wearing a new pair of Valentino sandals—so delicate and feminine—while she relaxes on a bench in Central Park in New York City. I love the deep purple of her blouse as well as that paisley and floral skirt!

Trina of Tea Time With Trina.

Trina of Tea Time With Trina says she is embracing sandals in September. She wrote, “I think as long as the weather permits, they can add quite a lot of character to an outfit.”

She is wearing a pair of neutral tone sandals with a gold block heel and I love the combination of the floral skirt (it almost looks like camouflage!) and the turban. The whole ensemble is modern Gloria Swanson, and like the divine Gloria, Trina is ready for her close-up!

Ana of Mrs. American Made.

Ana of Mrs. American Made wrote, “I wear my sandals mostly in the Spring and Summer, as we tend to get snow in the colder months so it is all boots then. I wear my sandals #MadeinUSA whenever I can, and these are a medium-height embellished neutral color leather by Calleen Cordero that echo the olive khaki Theory dress. I added a pop of color with the Kika Paprika bright pink knit blazer.”

I do love the unexpected pairing of a deep olive green with a coral pink blazer and the sandals help take Ana’s entire outfit up a notch!

Catherine of Not Dressed As Lamb.

Catherine of Not Dressed As Lamb wrote, “I finally got my hands on a pair of block-heeled plain black sandals which I’d been after pretty much all year – I’ve finally come round to the block-heel trend and am loving it! They look very classic with blue skinnies and my embroidered sweatshirt, as well as being simple and chic enough to allow the emphasis to be on my gorgeous red leather tote (or any other statement bag)!”

What a fantastic look on Catherine. I don’t own any block-heeled sandals but Catherine’s outfit makes me want to change that right away!

Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo Style Files.

Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo Style Files wore this red floral Anthropologie jumpsuit during a recent trip to the Netherlands. She said, “I fell in love with the 70s vibe.” I love it as well! Her wedge sandals, just visible, are by Clarks. I think Suzanne looks ready for a pool party in this look, don’t you? #CaliforniaDreamin’

Nora of Jacket Society.

Speaking of California, Nora of Jacket Society chose a soft kimono jacket to wear over a black dress for a weekend stay in Palm Springs. I like the wide bands of her black sandals and that she added a long red clutch to this gorgeous ensemble.

Dawn Lucy of Fashion Should Be Fun.

Dawn Lucy of Fashion Should Be Fun paired her black strappy sandals with a dynamite snakeprint blouse (love). She said, “I just bought these high-heeled sandals and love the way they amp up the sexy for a date night look.”

So do I, Dawn Lucy is looking smokin’ hot!

Alicia of Spashionista.

Alicia of Spashionista sent in a photo from a recent date night. She wrote, “I found these T-strap Spring Step sandals on the clearance rack at DSW and I’m in danger of wearing them out!”

I love T-strap shoes so much and I never get tired of seeing them but I notice that I hardly ever see them these days. I love these sandals (and that blue pedicure) on Alicia!

Alice of Happiness at Mid-Life.

Alice of Happiness at Mid-Life picked up these cage sandals during Nordstrom’s anniversary sale. She said, “They are so comfy that I’ve been wearing them non-stop.”

They are perfect here with the Old Navy distressed jeans and J. Crew top, not to mention that great bag; I think of Alice as the Mix Master for a reason—what a way to combine the edgy and the sweet!

Susan of High Heels in the Wilderness.

Susan of High Heels in the Wilderness is wearing a pair of black Michael Kors sandals that she searched for all spring. She said, “Now that I’ve found them I wear them with everything.” Here she’s paired them with an unusual and dynamic black and gold Elie Tahari top and pale cropped pants. I love a dark top with light trousers so I am a fan of this look!

Malia of Style by Malia.

Malia of Style by Malia is wearing a super chic black strapless jumpsuit and fantastic orange wedge sandals by Sacha London. She should pile on about a million gold necklaces and go disco dancing in this ensemble! Do note her amazing 1981 Mercedes-Benz. I love a vintage Mercedes more than any other car and this one looks like a beauty. Side note, that car is named Dynasty! Love love love!

Silk Path Diary.

Silk Path Diary, here in low wedges by Sam Edelman, wrote, “I think I spend more time researching and choosing my sandals than other footwear for quality and comfort because it really annoys me if sandals only last one summer season. I also like to rotate several pairs in a week to keep them from getting too worn and battered when sightseeing and the inevitable sweat on holiday.”

She brings up a great point—it is worth spending the extra time and money to get a good pair of sandals because I’m with her, it’s annoying if they only last one season and even worse if they break down during the season! Do you take the time to find a great pair of sandals or are you more casual about your sandal shopping?

Nicole of High Latitude Style.

Nicole of High Latitude Style edges up a pair of feminine and fun multi-colored strappy sandals in an unexpected way, with a black leather sleeveless top and red skirt.

Jodie.

Jodie said, “I wear my sandals with a lightweight dress!”

I love the pattern on this floral frock, it makes me think of a beautiful impressionistic painting, and I like how the sandals are so simple, they let the dress take center stage.

Linda of A Labour of Life.

Linda of A Labour of Life paired her eShakti skirt with “a classic white wedge sandal to bring out the girly side.”

I am loving this ladylike vibe on Linda. She would look perfect at a Manhattan rooftop garden party in this ensemble, champagne cocktail in one hand, gold clutch in the other, while gazing at the sunset!

The sandals sunk into the grass, for a close-up, see below!

I admit I don’t wear a lot of sandals during the summer—I’m pretty tied to my Skechers sneakers since I’m spending so much time with my kids, sometimes literally chasing them around. Most of my sandal wearing is at night when I go out with friends. I never get tired of a 70s vibe so I adore these Kelly & Katie snakeprint metallic strappy wedge sandals that I picked up at DSW a couple of years ago. They are high, about three inches tall, but surprisingly comfortable!

I was still in Virginia when these pictures were taken so I didn’t have a lot of clothing options with me. This look was a study in Working with What You’ve Got, the One Tiny Suitcase Edition! I paired a J. Crew sequin cardigan with an ombré Old Navy tank that goes from white to gray, which I love. I am also wearing J. Crew khakis. They weren’t long enough to go down to the edge of the sandals so I turned them into cropped pants by flipping up the hems.

Kelly & Katie sandal from DSW.

L’Wren Scott sunglasses, Julie Vos stacking rings and Pippa pendant, Timex watch.

I am wearing a Julie Vos Pippa pendant in sapphire blue and silver stacking rings. The sunglasses are my new favorites by L’Wren Scott and if you like them get thee to eBay, I recently saw an auction for the same pair. They have a lovely scrolled detailing which I just adore and which gives them a vintage Old Hollywood feel.

I hope you are enjoying all your sandals right now, while the weather is still warm enough to wear them!

As you start to think about your fall wardrobe, it’s only natural that you will be reaching for items in your preferred shades for autumn. So please join us for “How I Wear My: Favorite Color.” Whether you adore ravishing red, harvest orange, or the deepest of blue, purple or green, we would love to see you in whatever color you love best! Pictures are due by September 29, 2014. Send them to us at howiwearmy@yahoo.com.

Do stop by Adrienne’s to see even more great looks featuring sandals.

And thank you to all the fine foxes who participated this month!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Anna and Me at the US Open

The approach to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.

I took my son to the US Open Tennis Championship in Queens on Friday. It was the first visit for both of us. We went to an evening match with Roger Federer playing against Sam Groth of Australia. I know that Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue, is a big fan of Roger Federer (do I detect a bit of a crush?) so I suspected she would also be in attendance and I was right!

I thought it would be fun to compare our very different experiences at the same event.

Anna wore this:

Anna was right to bring a sweater. It was breezy and cool!

I wore this:

Great minds: Anna and I both wore blue.

Anna probably got there this way:

I am quite certain Anna took a town car (and driver) to the US Open.

I got there via:

The 7 Train to Queens.

These were Anna’s seats:

Anna probably sat in the red zone, courtside!

Here was the view from mine:

What a fun crowd in the lower promenade!

One thing we had in common was that we both had a great time!

Groth prepares his blisteringly fast serve!

Roger Federer and Sam Groth shake hands after their match on August 29, 2014.

Roger won, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, in just under two hours. It was a lively match and, I have to say, easy on the eyes (from what I could see on the big screen) with such good-looking competitors. It was definitely Hottie vs. Hottie! Sam Groth’s serve hit speeds of 142 mph and up, regularly, and sometimes Roger even managed to return them!

I’d heard the night games at the US Open can get rowdy (for tennis) and now I understand why. You take the energy of New York City, sprinkle a bit of alcohol on it (I saw plenty of people swilling champagne, mixed drinks, and beer as they walked around before the game!), put it in a big stadium on a gorgeous late summer night, and add one of the best tennis players of all time? You got yourself one fun and sometimes loud crowd. The chair umpire had to ask us all to be quiet on many occasions!

I hope Anna did the wave with us but somehow I can’t see it.

Roger in a post-game interview. He is beloved in New York!

Let me know if you have ever been to the US Open and if you have, what you thought of the event!