Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Final Resting Place of Montgomery Clift

The very handsome Montgomery Clift.

I wanted to share a piece of information I learned a couple of weeks ago, which was surprising to find out just now since I have lived in Brooklyn for over ten years!

When researching the names of the architects of Prospect Park (Olmstead and Vaux), mainly to find out if it was true that they preferred Prospect Park to Central Park (which they did, amazingly), I found out that the Friends Cemetery in Prospect Park holds the remains of Oscar-nominated actor Montgomery Clift. This was news to me!

I spend a lot of time on the Central Drive in the park. I run while my son rides ahead on his scooter. I knew that the Friends Cemetery was along Center Drive because I pass it all the time. It is a private cemetery owned by Quakers and it pre-dates the building of Prospect Park, which is why it’s still in existence today as working cemetery, with about 2,000 graves in it. The cemetery is almost always locked and there is barbed-wire around all of its tall black iron gates. The Quakers don’t want you there!

This sign is only up when the Quakers have their meeting. They do not like publicity!

Another sign that is normally never up.

The day I took these pictures the cemetery happened to be open for a Quaker meeting. While I snapped photos I watched groups of people, usually in twos, walk up the drive, only to return, as I knew they would, moments later. People thought the cemetery was open for an official tour perhaps, or to just poke around in, but that was not the case, as I knew it wouldn’t be. The signs were up probably to help Quaker newcomers to find the entrance, which is as hidden as they come, but the place is not open to passerby and rarely is.

The sign at the entrance.

The cemetery pre-dates Prospect Park.

So how did Montgomery Clift come to be buried in a Quaker cemetery in the center of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York? He who was born in Nebraska, became an accomplished stage actor on Broadway, and then a Hollywood legend in films like A Place in the Sun, From Here to Eternity, Suddenly, Last Summer, and The Misfits? Here is what I’ve learned:

At the time of his death on July 23, 1966, Mr. Clift lived in Manhattan on E. 61st Street. His mother, Sunny, was a Quaker and it is through her that he was accepted for burial at the Friends Cemetery in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

The cemetery’s opening.

A few of the headstones can be seen from the gate.

I’ve read that caretakers of the cemetery will not tell you where Mr. Clift is buried because his family did not like that, early on after his interment there, people left pictures of him (and of Marlon Brando and James Dean) on his grave. On the rare occasion when the cemetery is open to the public, the tour guide will not point out Mr. Clift’s headstone, not even when asked!

On set with Elizabeth Taylor while filming A Place in the Sun.

I did find an article in The New York Times titled “He’s Here for Eternity, But Don’t Ask Where” (love it), that said a tour-goer named George Krauss once found the headstone and was able to snap the picture below. He said Mr. Clift is buried close to the fence and facing the Long Meadow, which is lovely, verdant, and dotted with baseball diamonds.

So, in our midst here in Brooklyn lies a Hollywood star, surrounded by the activity and life of a very popular park and yet quietly protected from it all.

Mr. Clift’s headstone in Friends Cemetery, Brooklyn NY. Photo by George Krauss.

Mr. Clift was an accomplished stage actor on Broadway and lived for a time in Queens!

Montgomery Clift died on July 23, 1966 at the age of 45. He left behind some beautiful and moving work. My two favorites are A Place in the Sun and Suddenly, Last Summer. If you have a favorite Montgomery Clift movie, let me know what it is.

All pictures of Mr. Clift from Doctor Macro.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Dollar-a-Day Savings Project

Stuff and save!

One of the most interesting aspects of Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod was reading about how she pared her life down in LA and began to save money—lots of it—to quit her copywriting job for two years and travel to Europe. She was a lot freer than I am—no husband, no kids—but I found some of her suggestions on saving money apply to anyone, anywhere, no matter their situation, and in the back of the book she has an entire index devoted to them!

A list, pages long, on how Janice saved money!

While I don’t want to go live in Europe, I am always looking for tips to save for big ticket items. Janice wanted to see if she could save a $100 a day. I thought I’d start much smaller and just go for $1 a day. Don’t laugh, dear reader! It seems like every time I turn around I’m literally out of cash. How does this happen? I am not out getting manicures every weekend (I never am, I do them myself) or even buying J. Crew or Zara clothes (a rare treat), and yet I find myself out of cash nearly all the time. I know a lot of this has to do with having kids. A bag of apples here, a loaf of bread there, and milk, milk, and more milk—this is where my money is going, as I learned when I tracked my expenditures for one week. So I thought I’d try to tuck just one dollar a day away for one month. Not a lot, not anything really, but it would be an exercise in mindfulness and discipline, and a dollar a day would beat the terrible interest rate my Fashion Fund savings account is currently earning!

I decided to stuff each day’s dollar in the cute Hermès box shown above so my subconscious would take the hint as to what the top thing on my wish list is (Don’t judge).

I was pretty good about remembering the first few days, but by the middle of the month it was starting to slip my mind and sometimes I had to go back and put in two or three dollars to make up for days I had forgotten. On days when I only had a five or a ten, or (gasp!) a twenty on me, I had to write the box a mental IOU. It was fun to see the dollar bills pile up as the days went on. I felt like a bartender with an Hermès tip box, the best kind of tip box there is!

I love this book for its tips on saving money.

While it seemed fairly painless, I stopped the project after the month was up. I think it’s just easier to decide to put X number of dollars in a savings account every month and be done with it, which is what I normally do, and what I did the month I tried the Dollar-a-Day Project. In that sense it was a total success because I saved twice—once at the beginning of the month and again at the end of the month when I turned the dollar bills I was able to set aside into a money order which I sent to the bank.

I do like the idea that coins in a jar or dollars in a box could eventually add up to something significant. Maybe I will try a short-term project like this again but with a different approach. Any suggestions?

I always love hearing of little ways people save money so if you have any tips on tucking away dollars, please share them below!

And Janice’s book is a gem. If you haven’t read it yet, get a copy, maintenant! It’s the perfect summer read—charming and inspiring and wonderful.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Destination: My Front Stoop

I know many of you will be taking fancy vacations this season with trips around the country, or even to Europe or some fabulous island locale. While I sadly can’t join in on that fun this year, I have (re)discovered a place that instantly calms and soothes, gets me out into the world, and reminds me that it’s summer.

It’s my front stoop.

I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a third of a block away from Prospect Park—designed by Olmstead and Vaux, who also designed Central Park in Manhattan but considered Prospect Park their masterpiece. I also live on one of the busiest streets in Park Slope so for people-watching my stoop rivals the sidewalk cafés in Paris and that is not an exaggeration. That is how many people will pass by in the warmer months.

I planted these red pansies in memory of L’Wren Scott.

The brownstone I live in was built in the late 1800s and it looks it, which is both good and bad. Sometimes I feel like I live in something out of a Virginia Woolf or Edith Wharton novel—Victorian and grand and old New York. Sometimes I feel like these old places aren’t worth the trouble since something is always, always falling apart.

We share the brownstone with another family and so live on the top floor. My neighbor gets the backyard. We get the stoop. I can tell you this—we got the better deal. The stoop is a magical place.

The boxes outside my door are filled with pansies. The red I planted this spring in memory of L’Wren Scott, who loved those deep velvety reds. I know peonies were her favorite flower (mine too) but I think she would’ve loved the intense red color of these pansies. The flowerboxes make it easy to stash a wine glass behind them in the evening. People have been ticketed for drinking on their own stoop, can you believe that?

View to the left.

If I sit at the top of the stoop I can watch the world go by as people head to and from the park. Fashion parade? Crying toddlers? Determined runners, handsome dogwalkers, hilarious cell phone conversations? I see (and hear!) it all. (My favorite overheard conversation, uttered by an attractive young woman in her twenties yelling into her phone: “He’s a cheap motherf***er! He’s cheap!”)

View to the right.

Neighbors walk by and that’s how you get to know everybody on your side of the street—the relaxed and easy conversations that come from the relaxed and easy pace of the stoop in summertime.

My kids hula hoop, ride on scooters, draw with chalk, play with toy city buses, all in my sight. It’s a relaxing place for them too. Nothing says old school Brooklyn like kids playing on the sidewalk in the shadow of a brownstone. Is it 2014 or 1940?

The view often includes a tacky car parked out front, such as this one.

And sometimes a lucky view: Vintage BMW (love) and my scooter-riding son (also love).

Speaking of old school, check out this vintage BMW that parked literally in front of my house the other day. It’s the color of butternut squash and I wasn’t the only one taking pictures of this beauty! It’s pictured here with my son in front of it.

I wish you all a bon voyage on your lovely vacations. As for me, I will be spending a lot of time this summer on my stoop. Wish you were here!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Draw with Renaldo Barnette!

Renaldo Barnette’s gorgeous drawings for Ralph Lauren. I love all these looks!

My friend Brandon Graham, founder of Would You Rock This?, a site devoted to promoting the art of fashion illustration, got in touch with me to spread the word that Renaldo Barnette, a fashion illustrator for Ralph Lauren, will be holding the first of three drawing workshops on Saturday, July 19, in Manhattan. See the details below and if you are in the city that weekend or know someone who lives here who would like an opportunity to draw with an incredibly talented pro, let them know about this workshop. It’s a fantastic chance to learn from one of the best!

From the press release:

More of Renaldo’s work.

Did you know many of the top fashion designers frequently heralded by the press for their creative genius have little to no drawing skills?

Most people assume a designer credited with creating a stunning collection also created beautiful concept sketches. Well… not exactly. Top designers like Ralph Lauren rely on artists like Renaldo Barnette who specialize in drawing fashion.

I love that look with the trench and also the frilly skirt with the little jacket!

On Saturday, July 19, 1-4PM, at Ripley-Grier Studios in New York, Ralph Lauren Fashion Illustrator Renaldo Barnette will host the first in a series of workshops demonstrating his illustration techniques and give the public a rare look inside the world of a professional fashion illustrator.

Renaldo Barnette is one of the few people who have mastered both disciplines of fashion illustration for editorial purposes and fashion illustration for design purposes. Fashion sketches are some of the most valuable assets to multi-million dollar fashion brands because that’s where everything stems from. It’s not surprising then, that the fashion industry has quietly attracted some of America’s most talented illustrators at rates of up to $3000 per week because of their high level drawing ability and tremendous output within limited time frames.

Barnette has condensed years of experience designing and illustrating for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Anne Klein, and Nicole Miller to teach a variety of approaches to drawing fashionable imagery in this 3-Part Workshop Series. Attendees will be drawing a live model styled in designer outfits under the direction of Barnette.

WHEN | Saturday, July 19, 1-4PM (1st Workshop)
WHERE | Ripley-Grier Studios, 520 8th Ave, NYC

Monday, July 7, 2014

Exposed: A History of Lingerie

Red silk corset, 1889, blue silk corset, 1850.

I had to share with you some of my favorites from the new exhibit Exposed: A History of Lingerie at The Museum at FIT. It highlights the development and transformation of intimate apparel starting from the 18th century, with a remarkably well-preserved set of stays and a silk satin quilted petticoat, right up through the present day. After loving the corsets of Jean Paul Gaultier last year at his exhibit at Brooklyn Museum I wasn’t surprised that I adored so many of the garments on display here, from the knockout corsets in red and blue satin from the late 19th century that open the show, above, to the beautiful and sexy pink and white corset by Cadolle, from 2007, below. I also enjoyed seeing how dressing gowns I thought were from the 1930s were actually from the 1970s and 80s, proving once more that items from a different time take hold in the imagination and are reinterpreted by designers again and again.

If you are in New York City this summer or fall, do stop by to see this charming, seductive, and informative show. Colleen Hill curated this beauty and she is so young and talented (and accomplished!), that I continue to look forward to her work for FIT in the future.

The corsets next to a 2007 dress by Peter Soronen.

Stays from 1770 on the left, with a quilted satin petticoat from 1765, the oldest garments on view in the show.

Curator Colleen Hill pointed out that the stays and corset above, from the 18th century, were really the beginning of underwear being worn as outerwear because these garments were clearly meant to be seen.

A light green embroidered wool peignoir from 1878. How romantic!

An 1888 bustle of wire mesh and cotton twill tape.

A black silk satin corset, 1898, with a striped polished cotton petticoat, 1890. So glam!

A 1918 tea gown of silk chiffon, lace, mink, silk flowers and velvet ribbons. So Downton Abbey!

A 1940 Maggy Rouff halter-neck nightgown, left and a Juel Park nightgown, 1945.

A 1951 Dior petticoat that helped pull off the "New Look" with a 1949 bra by Poirette.

A 1962 Vanity Fair bra and panty girdle, left, and a Rudi Gernreich bra and panty, 1967.

Valerie Porr lounging pajamas, 1976, left, and a Fernando Sanchez dressing gown, 1982.

A gorgeous 2007 Cadolle corset of Chantilly lace and cotton. I love it!

“Corps de Baleine à la Mode,” 1778. Love.

Exposed: A History of Lingerie is on view until November 15, 2014

The Museum at FIT
Seventh Avenue at 27th Street
New York NY 10001-5992

Hours: Tuesday-Friday, noon-8pm
Saturday, 10AM-5PM
Closed Sunday, Monday, and legal holidays.
Admission is free.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How I Wear My: Summertime Picnic Look

Adrienne of The Rich Life (on a budget).

Happy Summer to you! We hope you are enjoying the season of trips to the beach and barbecue cookouts with friends, the days of outdoor concerts, dips in the pool, long bike rides, and lazy afternoons filled with good books, a tall glass of lemonade, and maybe even a nap! Since eating outside is probably one of the most popular activities during these sun-filled months, we decided to devote July’s “How I Wear My” to the Summertime Picnic Look.

What I love about this theme is that it’s open to interpretation depending on what kind of picnic you are planning and all these wonderful summer clothes remind me how glad I am that the harsh winter we experienced in NYC is most definitely over. Enjoy this quintessential summertime post!

Adrienne of The Rich Life (on a budget), above, my lovely “How I Wear My” partner, recently got to picnic at a winery, lucky lady! She is wearing a teal strapless maxi dress she bought in Kauai a couple of years ago with a J. Crew Jackie cardigan, Haviana flip flops, and a Panama hat. I love the easy summer glamour of this look and raise a toast to her!

Sheree of It’s Not That Deep.

This is now my new favorite picture of Sheree of It’s Not That Deep. It looks like an image straight out of Vogue and doesn’t she seem like a Greek goddess amongst us with her flowing orange dress, sandals, hair piled high atop her head, and those legs, my God, those incredibly tanned and toned legs! The dress is actually a cover-up from H&M, can you believe it? She makes it look amazing!

Dawn Lucy of Fashion Should Be Fun.

Dawn Lucy of Fashion Should Be Fun said, “The casual look would be good for a July 4th BBQ/picnic. I’m wearing a navy blue gingham shirt, with a red tee, skinnies, navy sneakers, a red handbag ... and a BIG picnic basket!”

Oh do I love this look so much. It is vintage and modern all at once and that is a gorgeous (and huge!) basket. I want to picnic with Dawn Lucy!

Nora of Jacket Society.

I really think Nora of Jacket Society could teach those young things at Coachella, the annual music and arts festival in Indio, California, a thing or two with this knockout ensemble of Zara white moto vest, khaki Rag & Bone jeans, Gucci belt (love!), amazing (and unusual) gladiator sandals, bronze bag, and all that great jewelry. This is picnic chic with a rocker edge and I love it. Take notes, all you twenty-year-olds!

Veshoevius of The Taxonomy of My Wardrobe.

Veshoevius of The Taxonomy of My Wardrobe said, “The only time I’ve been picnicking this summer is on the beach whilst on holiday in Spain. We usually like to take a packed lunch of sandwiches filled with Spanish ham and tomatoes along with fresh fruit for desert. We eat on the beach in between cooling off in the sea. No matter how simple the food or low-key the location I always think a picnic is quite a romantic thing to do and warrants a bit of dressing up for. So a corset top, a pastel floral print frilly skirt, and lace espadrilles was my choice on this day.”

I absolutely adore this romantic picnic look on Veshoevius. She looks so lovely!

Cynthia of My Rose Colored Shades.

Cynthia of My Rose Colored Shades wrote, “When it comes to picnic attire, I go for comfort, simplicity and mobility, with a sprinkling of style. The key words are easy breezy, and my go-to items are typically tee and shorts, slip-ons, and of course, shades and lots of sunscreen.”

I love the accessories Cynthia chose to pair with her striped T-shirt and shorts; I’m crazy for that statement necklace and clutch!

Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo Style Files.

Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo Style Files said, “This dress is by Knitted Dove. I love it because it is 100% soft comfortable breathable cotton, fully lined with nice big pockets. Everything should have pockets. Pockets are like well-concealed secrets full of surprises. It is very hot and humid here right now so this dress would be ideal for a picnic.”

I agree with Suzanne about pockets and about how ideal this dress is for a picnic, certainly a romantic one with wine and flowers included!

Alice of Happiness at Mid-Life.

Alice of Happiness at Mid-Life said these Loft pants “just scream picnic with the gingham pattern. I would wear this to a nice picnic in the park (with a gingham print blanket of course).”

I really like that Alice wore gingham with lace, I think it’s pattern mixing at its finest!

Lana of Two Teens and Their Mama.

Lana of Two Teens and Their Mama wrote, “I always need to bring a jacket to a picnic in Seattle – you just never know with our weather! Even though the dress is white, I’m sure I’d be sitting on a blanket. The Converse sneakers make the whole outfit comfortable and perfect for a summer barbecue or picnic in the park.”

I see a similar look around here in Brooklyn quite often so I know this is a classic picnic look that works from sea to shining sea!

Madeco of Au fil des jours.

Madeco of Au fil des jours wrote, “For a picnic, I choose a Zara dress, found during a sale two years ago. I wear it with sunglasses (of course!) and a homemade bag in ‘toile de Jouy.’ I use it at the office: it’s my ‘lunch’ bag. So why not for a picnic ?”

I love both the deep color and sheen of the orange in the dress. I also love the fabulous bag, especially that Madeco made it herself!

Linda of A Labour of Life.

Linda of A Labour of Life is wearing anchor shorts by J. Crew (love!), a sweater and tank by Banana Republic, and shoes by Old Navy. She says this outfit is good for “Beach Picnics with a nautical theme. Cape Cod ready.”

I really like Linda’s nautical-inspired picnic style. It makes me want to go on one of those booze cruises around the New York harbor that my husband and I used to take when we first moved to Manhattan. This look would be perfect on one of those trips!

Karen of Fashion Tip of the Day.

Karen, who has a Facebook page called Fashion Tip of the Day, wrote, “One should not wear expensive items to sit in the grass but that’s no excuse to not look your best. The dress is from Ross Dress for Less, the ROXY shoes are to walk through the grass and dirt and then slip off, there’s a big straw bag to hold everything, a straw hat, and a Metrostyle jean jacket in case I need something to sit on! Bring on the watermelon!”

This would also look so cute at an outdoor music concert. Karen is ready for watermelon and some music!

Malia of Style by Malia.

Malia of Style by Malia said, “The long maxi is my go-to for outside parties. I love the color of the skirt, which is Lane Bryant.”

Malia’s picture is reminding me that I don’t own a single maxi skirt right now, but I need to correct that situation pronto since her skirt looks so flowing, colorful, and comfortable!

Trina of Tea Time With Trina.

Trina of Tea Time With Trina said for a picnic one outfit she would choose would include (like Malia, above) “a maxi skirt (easy to sit in), a full sun hat, and possibly a scarf to wear if it gets chilly at night or to throw on the ground as a cover, which I do often. This time I just used my oversized bag to carry goodies in.”

With the 4th of July just two days away I love this bold use of red, white and blue on Trina. And are those little sailboats on her blouse? Love!

Terry of Terry’s Two Cents.

Terry of Terry’s Two Cents has been showing some terrific outfits for June, many of them perfect for a picnic, but this was a particular favorite of mine because of his gingham shirt, the hat, and especially the black loafers, which remind me of what a foxy Italian man would wear in Rome in summer too.

Deja of Une femme d’un certain âge.

Deja of Une femme d’un certain âge said, “While my ideal picnic would be on the banks of the Seine with a baguette, bottle of wine, and charcuterie and cheese, here in LA we like to head to the beach at sunset. Because you never know when the fog will roll in, a lightweight sweater or jacket is a must.”

I know exactly what Deja is talking about—any time I’m in San Diego and headed to the beach at the end of the day I bring a sweatshirt because once that sun goes down the temperature drops immediately! I love the California cool of this picnic look and wish I could join Deja at the beach.

This is what I would wear:

At Coney Island.

My fearless photographer Gwynne and I decided to drive out to world-famous Coney Island here in Brooklyn for pictures. It may be a tourist destination for visitors to New York City but Coney Island is also heavily used by locals and I can promise if you go you will be outnumbered by real New Yorkers, unlike Times Square, which is populated by people who don’t live in any of the five boroughs.

My picnic was quite simple and included two of my perennial summertime favorites—prosecco and strawberries. I toted my own champagne flute out to Coney Island to add an elegant touch. There is nothing like drinking prosecco and eating strawberries on the beach! I protected my strawberries in plastic before enjoying them. Not so pretty but necessary. Coney Island can be one dirty place, let me tell you.

Picnic essentials!

In my Old Navy white jeans, J. Crew linen shirt, and Banana Republic seersucker jacket I was easily the best-dressed and most covered-up person on the beach. The sunglasses are by L’Wren Scott, an eBay find and from the last collection she designed, and have quickly become my favorite pair. The flag pin is vintage Avon, from the 1970s, given to me by my paternal grandmother and one of my most beloved pieces of jewelry!

Kids always love the sprinklers on Coney Island.

With the Parachute Jump behind me.

A little history of the Parachute Jump, which is behind me in the above photograph: It was built for the New York World’s Fair in 1939 in Queens and was moved to Coney Island in 1941. It is not in use as a ride anymore but it is still considered a Brooklyn historic landmark.

I hope you have enjoyed at least one picnic so far this season!

Summer is definitely the time for white clothes and they are such an easy way to add a bit of glamour to hot weather dressing. So pick your favorite white garment or accessory, whether it’s a dress, jeans, sunglasses or even a pristine white bag, and join us in August for “How I Wear My: White.” We will accept photos until August 4, 2014. You can send them to us at

Do stop by Adrienne’s to see the other fabulous picnic looks.

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

All photos of me by Gwynne Keresty.