Friday, February 29, 2008
Well it's Friday. Yeah! I am just too pooped to wear heels today so flats it is! I'm wearing my Gap jeans, a vintage white Lacoste men's sweater over a white camisole from Target. No jewelry except my rings.
Vintage Lacoste sweaters on eBay are my new favorite thing. I'm looking to get some of the great colors they have in big slouchy sizes.
The Focal Point
My new American Eagle flats from the ae.com sale. These are going to be cute all summer.
Because, you know, I totally aspire to have Alicia Silverstone's wardrobe, and closet, as Cher in Clueless. And these are the closest I have ever seen.
So, carpe diem! Snatch yours right up and use coupon code WMS01 for free shipping.
You're sure to get some "Nice Stems" compliments.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
This looks remarkably similar to my other outfit from the tea party, but it isn't the same, I promise! I did wear another black v-neck top but the skirt is a shorter pleated skirt in black. I'm wearing the black version of my patent leather Aerosole heels with the silver buckle. I am wearing my Champagne necklace because it works so well to tie in the silver buckle on the shoes.
The Focal Point
I loved the look how Gala pulled her leggings down over her heels so I decided to do the same with my new turquoise leggings from Target (bought on sale).
It's funny how a few inch difference gives a whole new feel to the piece.
I feel like a dancer on the way to class.
Because I was going for a pink and black scheme, I thought it only natural to match. I wore a simple black pencil skirt and v-neck to keep it simple and comfortable. I also wore my favorite Champagne necklace because we were drinking Kir Royales.
I'm so witty, right???
But to add that girly element, I wore my vintage flower feet heels. These sandals fit perfectly and were just right to wear during afternoon tea.
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes
I was instantly smitten and can still remember how amazing everything tasted. Since then I have gone to tea in nearly every place I have visited around the world. I also became a collector of tea paraphernalia. Since I have a fondness for serving pieces, entertaining and Victorian silver this has become a bit of an obsession.
But it's great for hosting fun girly tea parties!
I used to have tea parties but I haven't had one in a long while. But my good friend Sonja has created a new networking initiative called The Ladies Tea and she inspired me to get back at it!
Seven ladies were invited to afternoon tea last Sunday and, in spite of some rainy weather, I think we had a lovely time.
For me it starts with choosing the guest list and an appropriately girly color scheme - easy enough given the overwhelming pink-ness of some of my tea stuff. I made my invitations and mailed them out a few weeks in advance, hoping everyone could make it. When I got all my RSVPs back (everyone, yeah!), I planned my menu.
The day before the party I was cleaning and baking and planning place settings. The menu was built off of a traditional tea menu but influenced by some of my favorite tea experiences at places like the Ritz and the Grand Floridian.
Earl Grey tea
Tomato Chive tartlets
Tarragon Chicken Salad with Spinach
Curry Egg Salad
served with Irish butter, Lemon Curd, Strawberry Preserves, Devonshire Creme
Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Icing
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
The egg salad and much of the baking used some of the eggs from my chickens, of course! We want everything to be decadent and delicious don't we???
Yum! Lavender sable dough in progress. A sable is a French shortbread cookie and a perennial favorite. If you haven't baked or cooked with lavender you are missing out. This cookie is so easy and gets better tasting the next day.
I am a huge stickler for using the best ingredients when I'm cooking. These tomatoes ended up tasting amazing. All we had to do was bake the tart shell and mince up a red and yellow tomato and then add the chives.
Here's my kitchen in the throes of preparations. It's not huge but it's very functional and has much more storage space than it looks. When we moved into our 110-year old house we did a good amount of cosmetic work to this room but it was worth it. We luv our kitchen.
And here's where the magic happens!
The day of the party we were up finishing baking and setting up the house and getting ready. The tea party was to be a 2 p.m. The hubby was amazingly helpful and made all of the sandwiches and the tarts. Plus he had helped by taking care of the dogs and cleaning up around the house too. Without him, I so could not have put this party on and have it go as well as it did. So big kudos to him!
As I mentioned, I love serving stuff, especially all the different pieces from the Victorian era where they had a serving piece for everything. I'm not exaggerating. I have baked potato forks and lettuce serving forks; forks for berries and lemons and spoons for jellys and pates. I'm just looking for reasons to use all this stuff.
So out come all the lovely silver tea strainers (loose tea only in my house!), the chargers and plates and the crystal stemware. And, all of my fun serving pieces for pastries and cupcakes.
We started with Kir Royales and then sat down to the first course.
I have a large square black dining table that seats eight even without the added leaves. The place settings were made up of pink placemats and hot pink glass chargers. The plates were all mixed up with some vintage and some new. On top were little glass domes which I had the chocolate-dipped strawberries. Each person got a unique vintage tea cup.
First course - delectable finger sandwiches. No crusts allowed. I do have to say, those tartlets were delish.
The tea lasted about 3 hours and was a lot of fun. The ladies were from different ages and walks of life, but everyone seemed to have a good time and the conversation was lively and hilarious. It was so good to see so many of my friends together in one place.
At the end of the party, each lady got a favor. I made up boxes filled with goodies as a takeaway. I made these boxes and filled them with 2 madelines to remember the tea.
And since this was a varied group, I made fun name tags for each person to wear.
The favor boxes were take-out boxes in the same pink and black color scheme.
Each box held the set of madelines, a Chinese fan in pink, a Eiffel tower wine stopper and a heart soap from Gianna Rose.
Afterwards, it was time to clean up and put all the pretty tea cups and dishes away.
But, I'm already excited about the next tea party I can have and the opportunity to spend some time with my wonderful friends.
I want to also give a quick "hello" to my dear Miss Bridget who, I hope, is reading this. I missed you at this tea party. It would have been great to have you at this. I hope you can come visit soon and we'll plan a special party in your honor!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
It was pretty cold today so I should have dressed warmer but, eh, that's why I have a coat. I wore my new denim-y pencil skirt from Target, a grass green cashmere sweater (I think from Garnet Hill) and my Coach leopard kitten heel flats.
The Focal Point
I was pretty streamlined with this outfit. I only wore my rings. Not even a necklace. But I do like the mix of the navy, green and brown. It's kind of a classic color combination which I think has a preppy vibe.
Too bad my legs were freezing! it was 33 degrees when I left for the day. Luckily I only had to walk from my office to the car. Brrrr!
THESE are even more adorable in person. They are more magically pink and delicate in real life and the photos do them no justice. I am a smitten kitten.
As a gift with purchase I got this book of Manolo Blahnik illustrations. The sketches in here are just amazing and it's a great retrospective. It is now one of only two books I have out on display because they are just pure art.
I've seen a few of these on eBay, if you are not able to get through Neiman Marcus.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Ever since Sandra Oh wore her modern interpretation to the SAG awards, I've been seeing more and more single-sided bows incorporated into accessories.
Some of the early detractors (I'm assuming before they knew it was an homage to a traditional dress) were not fond of her dress and the "boob bow". But from what I can see many of the big designers were not in this camp (nor was WendyB for sure, she loves a good boob and butt bow).
Check out these smashing Louboutins in fabulous green.
And Valentino was obsessed with this bow. He has a good five pairs on Bergdorfs with it.
I'd like to think that designers are mining the beauty of traditional ethnic dress for inspiration. This way they can be adapted, educate people and live on into the future.
According to WWD -
The designer is said to be returning to the mass chain this year with a new, limited edition brand called Whim by Cynthia Rowley. According to sources, Whim will not be part of the Go International line, and there will be no apparel. Instead, it will focus on novelty items such as outdoor games and inflatable pools, all given Rowley's irreverent touch. The collection is expected to hit Target stores at the end of April. Rowley is no stranger to Target, where she once had the Swell collection, which was quietly phased out more than two years ago.
What the heck? What is the point of having a cute whimsical designer when all you are going to get are (admittedly) cute lamps and inflatable pools. I want cute clothes and shoes and accessories, darn it!
So, while I really happy that Ms. Rowley will be making an encore appearance, I'd rather they sign on someone to fill the Mizrahi vacuum. Who would my choice be, given I'm sure that Galliano isn't going to step up to the plate?
I nominate Kate Spade.
And I'm not talking the more formal Kate of today but the witty Kate of about 7 years ago. I have three pairs of the cutest Kate Spade mules from that time and I guard them like a dragon hoards gold. I miss that Kate. Now she's all formal and not as crazy colored preppy.
Come back, Kate and bring it to Target for us!
The Fashion Spot discusses
Cynthia Rowley Bio on Target.com
Like most of the country, I had never heard of Carrie and Danielle or their company. But when I read the column about them, I was instantly intrigued and eager to speak with them. I was interested in learning more about them, their process and, hopefully myself.
You can read more about Carrie and Danielle by visiting the site but they definitely have the credentials, especially if you think about this process as creating your personal "brand" and not like a therapy or new age-y self-help session.
What does a Style Statement Session involve? Well, here's how they describe it on the site:
It's a lot like being interviewed…by a really good, intuitive friend who wants the best for you. We ask you a series of questions, from playful to profound, and we listen...very intently. You get to imagine, reflect on, and share what matters most to you. After about an hour, we take a few thoughtful minutes to ourselves, and then we present you with your Style Statement and its precise definitions.
We share the highlights of your session, what went into defining your Style Statement, and explain the 80/20 Style Statement principle. And we look at how Style Statement and our Life Style Map can become a tool for making choices in your life.
Given my background in marketing, this process and theory makes a lot of sense. One of the first things I tell a client is that they need to define who they are and what differentiates them from all their competitors. And why shouldn't you as a person be any different. Everyone has unique talents and attributes, why shouldn't we celebrate that. The problem is, as many companies and people know, it can be hard to be objective about defining yourself. Sometimes you can be too broad or too hard on yourself. And we all know those people (they may be in your own head) that talk negatively to themselves all the time. How can you feel happy and special if you don't feel you have anything special to celebrate.
I am one of those people who likes to learn more about themselves and how they can improve. Not only who I am and how I act but how I react with other people. I signed up for C&D's weekly Friday Focus emails too. If you do anything, you should sign up for these. They always have a very inspirational message. Something that gets you thinking about how you can improve yourself, your life or the world. They aren't preachy, just interesting.
The Style Statement session is not inexpensive, so I saved up for a while for it. And I talked with Danielle a few times over the year to learn more about them and the process. And, last Friday, I finally had my session.
The session takes anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes; mine lasted about 50 minutes and was done over the phone. During the process Carrie or Danielle asks you a series of questions. The questions are designed to uncover your essence, your inner "you". We talked about everything from personal goals and aspirations to fashion and books. Some answers were easy and some took me a while to come to an answer.
What was really interesting, and validated my belief in the value of the process, was when an answer would come to mind but I wasn't sure what drove it. I didn't know "where it came from". During another time in the session Danielle had asked about who I admired and why. She also later asked about what kind of job I would have if I could do or learn anything I wanted. I came to a sort of breakthrough thought that connected the two very familiar responses in a way I never had before. I was actually stunned that this process had elicited such a new perspective from somewhere within me. I'm still integrating this new view into my mind.
One of the questions that was fun was to pick your favorite flower and why. I picked a gardenia, which I've always loved. I think I said I liked it because it is a beautiful flower with an amazing scent, but it's not your typical flower to give or find in a florist. It's more personal - you'd pluck one from your own yard to bring into your home.
Danielle said the flower your pick and how you describe it can be telling about how you would describe yourself. She joked it was a bit "Psych 101" but still telling.
At the end of the session they go off and analyze your responses. The skill that Carrie and Danielle bring to the table is the ability to actively listen to, not only your words, but what you are saying. They then bring their holistic, third party view to that and distill everything to a two word Style Statement.
My Statement is: Sophisticated Precious
As you can read on the site, you Style Statement is made up of two words, the first being your 80%, your core, your foundation. Your second word is your 20%, your edge, your "twist", what makes you unique. It's also what you're good at giving others and what you often long for.
When Danielle (or Carrie - one of them does the session one-on-one) calls back after about 30 minutes, she tells you your two words but then also goes through all the definitions and nuances of the words and the analysis she did to get there.
What spoke to me in my Statement and in the definitions were elements like:
- Sophisticated means quality not labels
- Voracious and eclectic reader
- Perpetually seeking life education
- Ask penetrating questions and keep on asking
- Not naive
- May be difficult to get close to
- Have refined internal systems for making decisions
- Style is ornate, sumptuous, well-made and engineered
- Complex but elegant
- Appreciates loveliness
From the analysis she said things that drove her to choose these words were elements like treating my time as precious, as well as treating the people and members of my life as precious. The appreciation of rare, unique and delicate items, such as vintage jewelry or unique embellishments.
After you get your statement Danielle takes you through some of the ways you can apply it to your life. They have created the above Lifestyle Map. These are all the different areas where you can allow your Statement to guide you and your decision making process. And isn't it easier to get where you are going when you have a compass (or GPS today) to guide you.
My statement felt very comfortable and "right" to me. I kind of thought about my style and the things I was drawn to, my principles and even the types of foods/drinks/events I liked. Things like Afternoon tea, kir royales, etc., are all sophisticated but not overly fussy, just fun.
So, all in all, I really enjoyed my session. And while it may not be something that everyone can do or does, I think it was really worthwhile. One thing to keep in mind is that, come April 1, the fee for the sessions is going up. That's the bad news. The good news is that this is because C&D are putting out a book which can help you create your own Style Statement. You can get the links to all the ways to order on their home page or see a sneak peek here.
These ladies are poised to become even more known very shortly, so I recommend booking your session asap!
I hope this helped. I intend to now go forward using my Statement to help me refine my goals and make decisions that will keep me true to myself.
UPDATE - meet the ladies via YouTube