Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why I Love the Duchess's Style!

  • Photobucket
As I peruse the fashion pages of the many magazines I look at,from Vogue to Lucky, and read different fashion blogs, I am just amazed at how many fashions I simply don't care for. I'm not talking about the younger, kickier stuff that no woman over 40 should wear, but many of the outfits I see on celebrities who are 30+.
 One celebrity that I've fallen in love (her fashion sense, anyway) is Kate Middleton, the new Duchess of Cambridge. Now I am not a special fan of royalty or nobility, and I didn't really care for Princess Diana's style at all. But Kate has something about her look that I love. She's young, so it may be caused by royal restraint, but she epitomizes good taste in fashion. The clothes she wears could be worn by anyone over 40 with very few exceptions (women who don't like their arms won't care to go sleeveless). So am I saying that she is dressing like a middle-aged woman? NO. I am saying that she dresses so well and timelessly that even middle-aged women will look good in the clothes that she wears. In the picture above,you see Kate in jeans (great fitting and slim)with a casual striped top (stripes are so in right now) and a pretty , fitted navy blazer. She looks great. The scarf adds just that extra touch that gives a bit of style. The espadrilles say casual.
  Now what I also love about the Duchess is that she constantly reuses her clothing (some celebrities try never to be seen in the same outfit twice). Below, you see her in the same navy blazer with the great cut, a simple white shirt, the same espadrilles and possibly the same jeans.
I even love her outdoorsy look her. The boots are great, and you are never too old to tuck them into jeans.
Above and below: classic looking coats. It doesn't get any better than this!  The wonderful cut emphasizes Kate's slim figure.  For those of us not so slim, the coats would have an elongating and slimming effect.Photobucket
The blue Missoni coatdress above is perfect for Kate's coloring. I love her monochromatic look which generally makes one appear slimmer (not that she needs it).  She pairs the same outfit with two different pairs of pumps. I love the grey suede! They are a bit high for some of us however.  She changes accessories with the occasion.
Yes, she looks wonderful in red. Note that the dress is well cut and fits her perfectly.  The secret to looking really good often is not an expensive wardrobe, but one that you've taken to a good tailor so that the fit for you is impeccable.
Love this white suit, below.
Two great dressy looks.
The lessons here:
  • Fit is extremely important. 
How to apply:  Find a tailor, a good one (someone recently suggested to me that a man's tailor is best) and get your clothes tailored to fit you.  Even that wool skirt that you've been wearing for 5 years can benefit from tailoring if your body has changed or if it never fit you quite right to begin with. You'll know when the tailoring is working when your clothes not only look great, but they feel great when wearing them.
  • Accessories can make a big difference    
 How to apply: If your budget is limited, spend more on your accessories.  Hermes scarves (or good quality silk scarves), pretty jewelry in sterling silver or genuine gold, different handbags (which can be used for years) can change outfits fast and help you to dress up or down.
  (If you're budget is very, very tight, then buy good quality costume jewelry when it's on sale and buy classic pieces. Try outlet stores for your handbags.)
  •  Good shoes are a must
Spend your money also on good shoes, even if you have to buy them on sale.  Your feet will thank you and you will look much better when your feet aren't killing you.
Don't get locked in on the idea that there is only one pair of shoes that you wear with an outfit. Mixing up (and not necessarily matching up) can give you a different look.

  • No bare legs with "work" clothing (dresses, suits)
Of all the styles lately, the style of not wearing hosiery is the one I deplore most.  In the summer, when it is very, very hot - okay, but not with a business suit. And the rest of the year most women (not just women over 40) do not have skin that looks good without tights or hosiery, yes, even the flesh-toned kind.  Most have too-white skin or spend wasted hours at a tanning salon ruining their skin; leg makeup rubs off on clothes and chairs, and self-tanner is a pain, and really doesn't look very good in the winter.  They always look as though they have forgotten part of their clothing!
  • Buy quality, not quantity
This one always bears repeating - buy the best you can afford, but don't feel you have to have a lot.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Myth of French Chic

Paris in the Summer
On the Pont Marie  Longchamps bag, Cole-Haan sandals,Banana Republic top, Old Navy tee

  To be a Frenchwoman!  That was one of my earliest dreams. When I was in junior high, I got really lucky when Dominique moved in next door to us, a 24 year old Frenchwoman whose American husband was in the service and always away.   She became my mentor (we didn't use that word then) and I frankly worshiped her.  She was from, of all places, Biarritz.  Heaven!
  She had a wonderful French chic: a Sassoon style haircut in a reddish color when no one had Sassoon or was doing red. She didn't wear foundation often, but her skin was lovely. No matter what she put on, she was sexy - and she had 2 adorable litttle girls that I wanted for my own.
  She was one in a thousand, so I was really lucky to have her living next door to me. She taught me a lot, but the best lesson was to be "happy in your own skin."
  I've just returned from Paris, and while I adore Paris, love, love the French (who were wonderfully sweet and very, very friendly), and will still look to it as a style capital, the idea that French women are undeniably chic is a myth.
  I was all over Paris, from Montmartre to the Bastille, to the Left Bank, to St. Germaine, and the number of truly chic women I saw could be counted on the fingers of one hand. True, I didn't see tacky, that is the purview of the Americans, but I didn't see chic either. I saw women who dressed okay, pretty young girls in colorful dresses (the greatest difference between Paris and the D.C. area where I live), but not the kind of style that makes you want to follow a woman down the street and say, "How do you do that?!"
  On Blvd. St. Germain, I saw some women who looked elegant, but no more so than those I see shopping in Georgetown or at Tyson's here in the metro area.
  However, that does not mean that French women do not have much to teach us because they do.  If we took their lessons about grooming, skincare, clothing, and accessories to heart, we would look better, be happier, and probably have more money. Why? Here's why:
  1. The first lesson: self-confidence (being happy in your own skin). It's powerfully chic and very sexy!
   2. Less is more.  You don't need all those clothes.  Buy good clothes, but only a few (two pairs of jeans tops!) You can afford the good clothes if you don't feel that you have to go a month without wearing the same outfit.  French women wear the same outfit more than once a week, but they change it up with accessories and other pieces.
   3. Buy good accessories: own a Hermes scarf and wear it different ways.  Make sure that you have good, real jewelry, a really good umbrella, a decent hat to wear when it is really cold. 
   4. Your shoes should be comfortable, but still look polished. No bulky white trainers. A small heel because you walk a lot.
   5. Don't wear your workout clothes unless you are working out.
   6. Spend your money on a good haircut.
   7. Take care of your skin. Makeup removal every night! Use creams every night and day as well as sunscreen.  Don't try to get a super tan.
   8. Don't pile on makeup, but always wear a bit of mascara, blush, and lipgloss at least.
   9. Make sure that your entire wardrobe for any season could fit in a single armoire.
   10.  Amend your diet the minute you are one pound overweight.
   11. Femininity is good.
   12. Every item you purchase must be becoming to you - color, shape, fit, style.
Ines de la Fressange, the current style icon is 53 years old.
Marion Cotillard is classic perfection.
Big handbags are everywhere in Paris. Chic outfit, but you can tell it wasn't bought as a "set".
French women wear lots of neutrals with pops of color.
So, yes, there is more, so much more that French women could teach us that they take for granted.