Winner Of The Teri Jon Lace Dress, And A Thank You

We have a winner. Emerald! She wrote:

“I’m entering for my mom. She has NEVER worn a fancy long dress, and with my wedding coming up in August, this would be such a thrill for her. At all fancy events she has worn knee length dresses, including at her wedding and every other person’s wedding she has ever been to. I think she has always thought a long dress is too fancy for her, but really she is a fancy beautiful lady who would rock this dress! As much as my wedding is my day, it is also a really important day for her, and I want her to be stunning!”

This morning I read all the comments again as I put together the contest spreadsheet. They are really something. I could have quoted 30 or 40, but I am forcing myself to choose just 4. If you have a little time, you should read them all.

Ann of blue hue wonderland: “My parents had just lost our farm during “the farm crisis” in the 70′s so they absolutely had no money for a dress or just about anything else. I loved sewing, a neighbor lady and my grandmother cobbled together an education on how to use the machine and I made a dress.”

RoseAG: “The experience cemented in me a “build it and they will come” attitude towards my wardrobe. If you wait until you have an event to get something to wear you’ll end up wearing a too-small polyester print dress on your dream date.”

Suzanne: “The dress ended the night in a Dublin workingman’s bar at 7am. I had such a wonderful time and felt do glamorous (and one really needs as much glamour as possible in a Dublin bar at 7am!)”

Siobhan: “I was 5’9″ and my date was about 5’2″. My dad left a box out on our front stoop so my date could kiss me goodnight.”

If you will indulge me, I have a little more to add.

I spent this last weekend with my mother. I am the oldest daughter of a woman whose style at 81 still astonishes me. Her memory is fading. Her kitchen has a little adjacent sitting room, where she and her husband sit and read the papers most day. And on the coffee table of that room sits this photo. I’ve posted it before.

Mom and Lisa Holding Hands In Oval Frame

I had it printed and framed as a Christmas present for her.

Your comments reminded me that my true first long dress was one my mother made. In 3rd grade I got to be Sleeping Beauty in the class play. I was not then, and was not until high school, a girl that boys liked. Even as a little girl this made me sad. My mother sewed me a satin dress, short-sleeved bodice, full skirt, decorated with silver glitter glue patterns. She choose the deep sky blue that is, to this day, the best possible color on me. Much of the glitter fell off in rehearsal but even young I sensed that the dress was more beautiful because you could tell it was made at home. Probably in the kitchen.

On the other hand, as my dad, Professor C. noted in his comment,

“For the “traditional lady pose,” don’t forget Sargent’s Mme. X. No picture in the background, a table not a sofa, but unforgettable.”

A High WASP archetype. Nowhere near a kitchen. Lady X, as she is called. I myself do not, now nor ever, manage cool elegance. In little black dresses I am happy, even a little bouncy. Not interestingly melancholy. So I substitute hard work, loyalty, and constant attempts to be of service, to create appeal. As Sturdy Gals do.


Your stories teach me so much. So much about how I feel about being a woman, and how and why I write about our clothes in the larger search for meaning and connection.

Thank you.

Emerald, I hope your mom loves the dress.



Self-Education In Midlife, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:17am

New York Times Photo by Mauricio Lima

The time has come to re-educate myself. And pay for it.

No, I am not going back to school, per se. But I am subscribing to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and perhaps some other online news and analysis media. Or whatever we call informed sources these days.

I used to subscribe to both my local California newspaper and the New York Times. I read them faithfully every morning before work, even though the Times made me miss Manhattan something awful.

I quit print when I divorced – too expensive, I said, too hard to manage. Maybe too sad, reading papers on a small round Pottery Barn table in my apartment with mirrored closet doors. I had painted one wall red, like an Architectural Digest Upper East Side snuggery, to no avail. But I digress.

In any case, that personal storm and resettling absorbed all my ability to think. Then I started writing the blog. Again, mind occupied. Then, as soon as I mastered the blog routine and all that associated new information, I went back to work.

One of the really good things about work, besides exhilarating problem-solving, and productive teams, and a salary, is that people talk. I don’t mean gossip, or back-biting, or even collaborative discussion of work issues. I mean they talk about the world. And so I managed, still, not to miss my newspapers.

But now, 6 months into re-retirement, I find I am dumb as a stump with regards to anything outside my own sphere. And that’s not right. So finally, after a reader sent me yet another article link that I could not access, I started to pay for the New York Times online. To balance that dear, liberal world, I’m also going to have to pay the Wall Street Journal.

I’m looking for a few more good sources. My stepfather recommends Foreign Policy. And the Economist. I find reading the Economist to be rather like eating chocolate truffles; the box looks beautiful uneaten, but two bites in and I’m shoving it all back into the closet. I hope to persevere.

Do any of you have suggestions? My goal is to be informed by the brilliant experts, of all viewpoints. Although I am unrepentant in my liberal atheism I am always open to well-reasoned opposing opinions.

Thank you in advance. And perhaps, in a month or two, I will be able to understand American education funding, global energy strategies, and what on earth is happening in Russia. Or at least to know that no one on earth has it figured out.

I know I cannot hope to become an expert on any of these large topics, that’s OK.  And I don’t plan to talk about my opinions, at least not here. But I would feel incomplete having none at all.

An Object Of Desire: Chic, Packable, Sun Hat

Sun. Ahhhhhh.

Followed immediately by, “Yikes! My skin!” I’m going to propose that one thing to spend on is a sun hat you actually like to wear. Made of raffia, extremely comfortable, complete with a little neoprene buffer inside on the front of the headband to stave off itching. The infinitesimal luxuries of life.

Packable Sun Hat, Brimmed Straw Hat

Helen Kaminksi, via Nordstrom. I got mine in Kauai, where I wore it ever so happily every day.

Of course, there’s always our friend Target too. Choices are good, in moderation, just like sunlight.

When A Brand Surprises

Last week I posted some ideas for fancy dresses under $250, at A Practical Wedding. And of course Sky’s The Limit, Net-a-Porter Let Me At It is easy, at least in our imaginations.

But if you’ve got a real event coming up, you might want some other options. You might want lavish, but at less cost than a small car.

Mother of the Bride, Over 50, Long

Enter Teri Jon. Their slogan is “The perfect dress at the right price and the right size.” Sold often in the Special Occasion salon at Saks Fifth Avenue. When their representative first contacted me about working together, I confess the fashionista in me cocked an eyebrow. But when I looked at their goods, I was surprised.

While the brand may not scream glamor, the clothes do. Or at least they speak in dulcet tones of sophistication with a soupçon of comfort. And the company is working to modernize the brand, just as we, their customers, are doing for the stereotypes of 40 and 50+ women.


Their representative and I worked out an arrangement in which they loaned me a couple of dresses to show you. I get to play at dress up, Teri Jon gets to meet my fantastic readers, and one of you will win a gold dress. Yes, Teri Jon are hosting generous giveaway complete with our usual story-telling.

I thought I’d emulate the traditional lady pose here, hand often on sofa, in front of a painting. Of course, in place of Schumacher-covered splendor and a family portrait we have Pottery Barn’s Pearce sofa and Lily Stockman’s Her Favorite Time Of Day.  Never mind, fancy dress is 50% imagination. The silver lace number above allows room for my non-imaginary midsection.


I didn’t want to take it off. Couldn’t decide if my princess name is Marguerite or Katrina. Worn with crystal-toed Jimmy Choos, gold family bracelet and antique Swedish chandelier earrings, brown-pink Armani lipstick, and a crown braid. Braids are all the rage, and many blowout places will do them for less than the traditional updo. Plus they survive a sleep or two.


Teri Jon also offers cocktail dresses. This one, in a silk gazar, cried out for 40s styling. Hey, the crown braid still works! Just switch out the muted pink lip for a bright red by MAC, and presto change-o Kiss Me Sailor! Earrings by Vicente Agor, and Tan-go ankle strap Mary Janes by Valentino, via Nordstrom.


I pulled an old velvet coat out of the closet. Old as in I bought it in London in 1979. Yes it has some gnarly shoulder pads. Jaeger. Another brand due for modernization, but I digress.




And finally, the dress Teri Jon is giving away. Since it will be yours, I traded the living room for a blank canvas. The land of off-white backgrounds, doors that lead we don’t know where, and Internet cabling. Also known as the Back Hall. Remember I told you my house needs painting? Yup.

The dress, however, shines. I’m wearing Beladora earrings, a gold chain necklace wrapped twice around my wrist because I liked the way the end of it dangled free, and blue-green beaded René Caovilla slingbacks bought for my brother’s wedding. I also added NARS bronzer. The dress insisted.


You can see that even when I’m not holding The Sideways Pose That Slimmed Goliath, the built-in taffeta-sash creates a nice shape.


The lace is interesting, almost chrysanthemum-patterned.


The sequins throw a pattern of light wherever you walk. Notice the glints on the wall, like domestic fireflies. You bring your own red carpet lighting.


The dress comes in sizes 2-18 and is made of polyester and nylon. The giveaway is open in this case only to US readers. Winner will be announced Monday, March 24th.

So please tell us a story of the first time you wore a long dress. You can define “first time” loosely. For me, the tale involves a Houston debutante party. One of the straps of my chiffon halter dress was apparently a little loose, as I danced briefly in a full Janet Jackson. Not to be repeated. Luckily all the dresses here stay put.

Do tell.


No compensation was received for this post. Beladora now sponsors Privilege with an ad in the sidebar. Affiliate links included may generate commissions.
Self-funded hair by Yajaira at Halo, a local salon found here.

Ines de le Fressange Collaboration at UNIQLO

Ines Fressange for UNIQLO

Today marks the US debut of the collaboration between Ines de la Fressange and UNIQLO.  The former model. and soon to be fashion maven has put her name to a collection of something like 30 pieces. Chinos, cotton lawn button fronts, tees. Hello. And that little number she’s thrown on so fetchingly above might be the “workman” jacket I’ve been looking for. Unfortunately, by 6:32am PDT today, it had sold out. I’ll be making a pilgrimage to the San Francisco store this week. Coming soon to a multi-story box with rainbow staircase near you.

I had never been one for style icons, until I retired and was free to dress however I pleased. Absent constraints, it’s helpful to have a guidepost. And Ines, I propose, is the Sturdy Gal par excellence, albeit taller, thinner, and more Française than most of us.

For other thoughts on the collection, try That’s Not My Age, and Silk Path Diary. If you’ve bought anything yourself, I’d love to hear your assessment.

The Lark Finds Mattress Help, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:55am

I am now and have always been a morning person.

I love what happens when I wake. While I might not actually throw my covers off, jump out of bed, and bound across the floor, I could. The back of my mind hums happily,”Well isn’t THIS great!”

In the morning everything seems possible. No, that’s not it. More like I don’t mind whatever might be impossible. Whatever is, it’s the best. I experience small details as exquisite.

By 3pm or so things change. Worry creeps in. An unsettled feeling, as though my parents might leave me with a mean babysitter. As though I might get lost in the library stacks. As though I might fail to meet someone’s expectations – I don’t know whose.

We don’t have to talk about that now.

I wonder how it feels for you owls. You know they use the term “owl” for night-lovers, right? No. I don’t mean vampires. I mean regular honest to god eat-a-sandwich-with-cheese people. We day types are “larks.” Owls, if your well-being grows throughout the day, how on earth do you ever go to bed?

Here’s an anecdote, maybe useful for larks and owls both.

A couple of years ago I suffered from anxiety waking. It could last more than an hour. Actual tossing, actual turning, misery. Morning people live for a good night’s rest. It’s like balsamic vinegar on strawberries, or salt on caramel. The sweet grows sweeter. I even go to bed at night a tad hungry, so as to enjoy my breakfast as much as possible.

Something had to be done.

So, first, I stopped drinking more than 1 glass of wine a day. That helped. Then I stopped working. That helped too.

But one more thing. I had always preferred a hard bed, until I spent a night at my sister’s. She had long ago made the switch to memory foam.

Fireworks. Albeit all dark, all blue in the dreams of night. I slept without waking for the first time in years.

We didn’t change out everything here at home, immediately. New mattresses are expensive, and I didn’t know if Significant Husband would take to the new feel. One step at a time. We found a memory foam topper at Costco for minimal cost. If we were doing a research study we’d say the sleep data from my sister’s house has been replicated. High fives all around.

One caution, this particular material off-gasses for close to 2 months. Best left in the garage or an empty room, until the chemical smell dissipates. Then rise, and shine. Even shining is better with sleep.

I still wonder, what makes someone a lark versus an owl? But for now I’m going to sit here in my glorious chair and listen to the exquisite birds chirping. Then I might go outside and prune my beautiful hedge and watch the dew shine on the dark leaves of my dear rose bushes. After all, this feeling won’t last forever.

An Object Of Desire: Velvet Blazers

So, if you’re going to wend your way through the world in jeans, tees, and sneakers, you just might dread the Full On Schlump. What to do? You’ve got several tools, but a jacket is one of the best.  Humor me here. If moto jackets can called “cutting edge,” we might think of the blazer as a screwdriver. Valuable, but requiring the perfect size to function well.

Which makes velvet blazers a Phillips, you never have one when you need it. Pause for cymbals. With that, we will cease to torture metaphors and move on to actual fashion. How do you guys feel about a velvet blazer? I’m in covet mode. A great way to play 60s/70s/80s vibe without huge bold prints or outrageous silhouettes. As perfect for nippy East Coast and Midwestern spring days, as for California’s cool summer nights.

Besides, even net-à-porter says this is the season of the trophy jacket.

I love this red one from Zadig & Voltaire, via Farfetch. Those covered buttons. With GAP boyfriend jeans and a pale blue tee? Chandelier earrings? Yes? Would also totally work over a little dress.


Or this from Alexander McQueen. In bottle green/where you have you been?/fit to be seen. Brings on the poesy, yes? An ode to Edwardian sleeve puffs.


Good news is, velvet blazers come in budget versions, in plus sizes, in many colors. Anyone can swashbuckle. Click the arrows and cue the whistling, because really, anyone can.


A Most Astonishing Sale At The Outnet

The clearance sale is on at the Outnet. Amazing deals. As in 80% off. I now own this, to wear with white jeans in the summer.


Silk satin, $85 down from $425. I just hope that really is a blueish tone in the pattern. If not, I’ll give it to my mom who looks great in peach.

Thanks to Grechen for the heads up. She aalways knows the best deals on the best stuff and you should follow her if you do not already. BTW, she says this sale sells out quickly.

Who says I can’t enable a good impulse buy now and again?


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A Practical Wedding’s Mother of the Bride (or Groom) Dress Roundup

Here are some ideas for Mother of the Bride or Groom dresses, under $250. Quite promising, I’d say.

A million thanks to Meg and her crew at APW. Always a pleasure to visit.

LPC is at A Practical Wedding Today

Today I’m over a A Practical Wedding. This morning, you’ll find photos from my wedding. This afternoon, I heard from a little bird, might bring my choices for Mother of the Bride dresses. In the under $25o category. If my intelligence is correct, I’ll post that link too, when it’s up.

And yes, Significant Husband is anonymous on purpose. Thank you for your understanding.