Friday, January 29, 2010

A Charmed Life

Gold charm bracelet with charms from JE Caldwell (RIP)...

In my ongoing one-woman attempt to resurrect 1960, I submit Exhibit A: the charm bracelet.

Was there ever such an accessory wrapped within an entire culture? Was there ever such a lovely, gilded time when something so sweet, so optimistic, so idealistic was de rigeur? There indeed once was a time when we women were charming, witty and gay...and the omnipresent bracelet that dangled and tinkled at our wrists was but aural evidence. Individual golden charms, meant to signify special moments in our lives...soldered carefully onto the sunny chains that bound us to those existences. The sound of the clinking charms as old-fashioneds were raised to red-lipsticked lips and as children's heads were lovingly and distractedly tousled by manicured hands reinforced the overall impression that womanhood was rich, rewarding and, yes, charming.

Gold heart charms for marriage and children...

Yurman charm bracelet

Bring it all back,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fur Sure

Dark brown mink jacket...perfect with Tory jeans and a white shirt

Before launching into this post, I must first clarify an important point: I am an animal activist and pet owner. I am against exploitation of animals for any purpose. And yet...I do wear fur.

However--all my furs (with one exception) have been passed on to me by older, fur-loving family. These pieces have found an appreciative spot in my closet, and I can say without guilt that I have not supported the fur trade with a single dollar of my own. Do I ever feel I am contributing to animal suffering merely by wearing the pelts? There are some moments when I must confess that I am conflicted between my passion for animals and my desire for glamour. I am an imperfect person, clearly.

That said--on to the retro-chic of the fine fur coat, jacket or stole. Why else would we stubbornly don a garment with such controversy in every seam? Because there is nothing else that instantly transforms even the lowly blue jean into a stylish statement.

And so I share my embarrassingly bulging fur vault avec vous...

Black sheared mink swing coat...ideal with a swanky black cocktail dress

Brown sheared mink jacket...with jeans, tweed trousers

Brown full-length mink coat...classic for day

Black full-length mink coat...drama for night

Light brown shearling coat...for the country

White mink jacket...a little bit Aspen, but what the heck

Off-white mink stole...tres Doris Day over dresses, suits, et al

Black Persian lamb with white mink collar and cuffs...that unbeatable Betty Draper conservative combo

Autumn Haze mink with fox collar and trim...a real Alexis Carrington production

White full-length robe-style mink coat...a little Liberace, plus a few Santa-esque jokes at the holidays

I told you I was shallow.

Cozying up to my closet,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Burberry Babe

Are you lovin' that plaid as much as I do? Actually my enthusiasm for Burberry is more about the overall styling than the ubiquitous plaid lining that has been so copied down. Truth is, the trench and barn coats are so well made and classic that they last forever.

The super-heavy trench...

With detachable woolen lining (and collar, not shown).

The full-length retro Burberry with the removable wool lining is the ideal cloaking for a nasty, wet day...perfect for a UK sojourn, from whence it originated.

Quilted version...

The quilted barn jacket has also become an instant classic as the suburban mom's go-to taxi jack. A trip to the Farmers Market in Strafford means sighting at least half a dozen, in a flotilla of shades. (Mine above is a kelly green.) Although I do believe that there are knock-offs running around out there (ick)...

The newer edition: shorter, lighter, more body-hugging.

My new fave is the lighter-weight, more tailored trench, but still in the knee area for dress coverage--and more defined. Think Catherine Deneuve in Belle du Jour.

The heavy trench was purchased in the early 90s in--of all places--Syms! In the designer area, I watched it for about a month before scoring it at an unbelievable price. (About a quarter of what it cost at the time). You just never know!

And if you're feeling super-Sloane-y (80s, very Lady Di-esque, pre-Charlie), you can jump in with both feet and completely overdo it with a head-to-toe look by adding your kilt. (Too matchy-matchy, as my daughter says, but sometimes you just can't help it.)

The longer, classic kilt with pin...

Or the lower-thigh-baring, trendier shortie.

I wear both of my kilts with an assortment of black cash twin sets or turtles, with the occasional old-school Geiger black boiled wool jacket thrown in if I'm really up for the full-sauna effect...and black tights and flats, natch...

Engaging in trench warfare,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tassel Tails

Confession: I adore tassels and scatter them like birdseed on cupboards, doorknobs, drawers and the like. I especially love finding unique handmade ones that reflect the palette of a particular room.

Do they serve a purpose? Absolutely not. They exist solely as a decorative unexpected note of whimsy on otherwise utilitarian household items. A doorknob is just a doorknob, but with a tassel...ahhh. It becomes a gateway to a hidden chamber, a beckoning invitation to a smile within.
Begun in 16th century France (no surprise), they are SOP for decorators worldwide now.
Ours shown have been attacked by pets both feline and canine, but somehow have survived largely intact.

Terrible tasseler,

Monday, January 25, 2010

B K-C Again

The alligator ring...

The alligator bag...

And the horsehead necklace...

As previously mentioned, I have a little Barry Kieselstein-Cord problem. Or I should say, I once did. (Eighties? Nineties? I can't recall.) And since my blog is about celebrating what one already has...I have dipped once more into my trove of B K-C for your viewing enjoyment. In doing so, I am also reminded, happily, that (as The Trad puts it so eloquently) the best of many things is in the past. (His words are something to the effect "Not as good as it once was...better than it will be...")

With apologies to The Trad, and thanks for his ongoing spirit of fond backward glances...

Looking for Barry-ied treasure,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Knock Knock

We have no doorbells at our ancient Chester County home. So how do we know if someone's knocking (and someone's always knocking...)?

An assortment of doorknockers on three of our five doors, natch. They add a decorative and old-world feel, in addition to the more practical aspects.

Who's there?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Preppy Neck

I just adore my gold neckwire! It is my go-to necklace of choice for everyday. Usually I wear my Nantucket basket on it, or my Anthony Wayne Auxiliary Presidential medal, or sometimes both together...but virtually anything can be swirled onto the neckwire for a classic look.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Silver Julep Cups

It's four more months to Derby Day, but it's never too soon to trot out the silver cups.
Not only are they super for mint-garnished May cocktails, but I use them for flowers, and for overall decor in our horsey-themed den. I have about a dozen and they've been well-used and worn over the years...mostly at steeplechases and point-to-points...for the occasional champers chug...a motley and mismatched collection. Some are baby cups (mine and the kids')...some are family cups from some shoot, etc. All have a bit of a scratched patina from picnic baskets and tailgates. Cheers!

Polishing away,

Black Book

This is the Social Register, or just plain "the register." Over the years the number of entries have's now pretty thick compared to decades ago. It's the list of lots of nice people all over, including where they summer, contact info, clubs, et al. You get two of them a year, with updates included.

In my mother and grandmother's day, it meant everything. My Mimi used it like the phone book. Engagement, wedding and death notices were published there (as Mimi used to say, "A lady should appear in print thrice in her lifetime: birth, marriage and death"). Today, not so can disappear from the listings if one doesn't send in one's info...and I certainly can't imagine limiting my sphere of friendships to the book. Basically, it's still a pleasant diversion and a retro "nice-to-have." Mine sits on a table in the den, a reminder of those more gracious times.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Scary Portraits

No home is truly complete without stern, disapproving older relatives (either living or long deceased). While in possession of a few of the former, I give you the latter in the form of the Lake Famille Series. For your viewing (and my dusting) pleasure...

Can you see their eyes moving?

I can,

The Knife Box

One of my favorite dining room accessories has always been the knife box, or more to the point (ha ha), a pair of 'em.

Someone recently visited us and was curious about them. I did a quick google and discovered that their origins are in the early 18th century, when the vogue for full flatware sets began. Until then, one arrived for dinner carrying one's own knife and spoon, sans fork, whose invention was yet to occur. Today they are an antique-lover's delight, housing the good silver, a gracious nod to times past and a practical space-saver for overwhelmed chests and drawers. It's so easy to pop open a box and voila!

There they are, ready to fly (hopefully not).

So not cutting edge,

Mascot Mania


Chasing the logo...
Sky fox...

Chasing the jaguar...

Otherwise known as hood ornaments...I am a long-time buff. Our only car that doesn't have one is my husband's Audi convertible--he refuses to mess with what he considers perfection.

Every car I've owned since my teens has had its own mascot. My taste has changed over time--in the old days I favored horses, oxer jumps and the like. I have quite a collection from over the years, which I've recycled as cars die off. Placement of the mascot is everything: if possible, it should have some amusing relationship to the automobile manufacturer's actual hood ornament (if there is one). Since I favor animal mascots, I like the visual illusion that the mascot is in hot pursuit of the car's hood ornament. Examples: my fox--who has been chasing the Jaguar ornament since '98--and my greyhound, in mid-flight above the MB logo on the station wagon. I call the greyhound "George" in honor of my dear whippet who passed away in July...I feel his spirit guides me in my daily travels. Also, it's in honor of my Montague, my dear IG. I am trying to convince the son that the Wrangler would look oh-so-swell with the addition of one of Mom's little critters, but so far no such luck. Not butch enough, I guess...

I have gotten mine in various places. Tack shops, preppy clothing stores such as the Wilmington Country Store in Greenville DE, and online (ebay has some interesting ones from time to time). They can be custom-ordered in many places.

Mascot Mommy,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Signet Salutations

Is is possible to sport too many signets at one time? Today I am pushing it.
A tad de trop.

Then again, you can't get too much of an old classic.

At least, if I ever forget, I'll know my own initials.

I know I am,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Hopsy Bag

Take a look at this bag. The adorable, lovely and on-her-way tastemaker Helen "Hospy" of Monograms and Manicures ( blog fame, is now an official handbag designer herself. I am privileged to be one of the first to have her eponymous creation, the Hopsy bag.
It is beautifully detailed, exquisitely handmade...and comes in a variety of colors, I understand.
I am thrilled to have mine, in this delightful pink (of course), which will be perfect with all my Spring Lillys (and my winter ones, too).

I hear Hopsy has more items up her creative sleeve...including clothing!

Merci beaucoup et bonne chance, Hopsy!

Bag lady extraordinaire,


I'm a huge fan of Barry Kieselstein-Cord jewelry and accessories and I'm fortunate to have a few. After a long detour down Hermes alley, I have rediscovered by B K-C belt buckle and am full-throttle into sporting it on my travels. Here's to finding old friends...

Buckling in,

About Me

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Living well is the best revenge...and a choice we make every day. Join me as I celebrate the bounty of beauty in all its forms: fashion, homestyle, accessories and everyday I juggle the roles of Mommy, wife, daughter, dog mommy, creative director, Zumba instructor, volunteer...all with more than a passing glance backward to an old-school, classic time when style was a way of life