Do You Wear All Black Because Your Courage Fails You?


Do you find yourself wearing an awful lot of black? And do you find yourself apologizing, if only to yourself, for your choices? Does an all-black outfit, we might ask, reek of defeat? No I say, no! Like anything we do, as long as we reveal our intent, it’s an act of courage.

You just want to make sure you don’t wear black in default. As in, “Oh I have to go out, ugh, gee, do I have some black pants, oh good there they are at the back of the closet, what else, oh heck here’s that black sweater and by god I know those black pumps show their age but no one will notice, OK then I’m ready, oh wait, fine, lipstick. Let’s go.”

Choose black. Even if you do so because you can’t quite get the hang of colors, or you really wish your body weight chose a different distribution across your frame. Make the choice with intent. And my bet is that you’ll develop a reputation for incredible style, and simplify, and have some fun too.

(If it makes you nervous, at all, imagine you’re a fashion insider. Or, even better, our gorgeous Tabitha at Bourbon and Pearls.)

You do have to make some choices in addition to he. The most important? Structure? Or flow?

Here’s an example of all-black structure. A tailored blazer, button front shirt, trousers, bold pumps, and a black scarf to drive home your intent. This is not accidental dressing. To give a structured outfit flair, your jewelry should be wiggly. Term of art, that. Your lipstick, playful.

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Alternatively, an unstructured cardigan jacket, layered over a tunic and cropped pants. A little more edge to the shoe, and structured earrings to balance the moving fabric. Makeup focused on the eyes. I highlight eyes or lips, never both.

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What you don’t want to do is wear both structured and flowing together unless you are quite confident. Une Femme today, for example. Or Jenna Lyons. She can pair a chambray shirt with harem pants brilliantly, we more intermediate fashion sorts may approach with caution. We do not want to default to stretch-waist French terry pants and a regular ol’ button-front shirt. Or belted, tailored pants and a tunic for that matter – too much fabric at the waist.

You should also work texture in all-black. You want a similar degree of sheen and tightness across all your fabrics. For example, woven silk with cotton jersey, not so hot, but velvet with denim is great.

A final note. In monochrome, our skin becomes an accessory – be strategic in what you reveal. Show the skin you like, and like the skin you show. Check the proportions on visible ankles, wrists, arms, neckline. Small things make big style statements. As you can, if you but choose.

Shopping For The All-Black Outfit

Structure
(Clothing by the Princess of Structure.)
Blazer (J. Crew 55% off at the Outnet)//Shirt (black now sold out but will be back, I’m sure)//Bootcut Jeans//Suede Pumps//Silk-Cashmere Wrap//Earrings//Necklace// NARS Multiples // NARS Lip Velvet Gloss Pencil

Flow
(Guess who dominates this outfit? The Queen of Flow.)
Jacket//Tunic//Pants//Shoes//Earrings//Necklace //Eyeliner 1 (navy) & 2 (french blue)

Affiliate links may produce commissions.

Modernizing And “Eclecticizing” A Pottery Barn Living Room


I just might be making slow progress in the world of interiors. I bought an end table that didn’t match my Pottery Barn sofa. How did it happen?

  1. We – happily – needed enough space in the living room for 4 adults to sit comfortably.
  2. A while back, I ordered a matching Pottery Barn loveseat.
  3. The adult who sat on said loveseat realized he needed a place for his tea mug, and another place to put his feet.
  4. As I already had a coffee table similar to this, and 2 end tables like this, even my timid self knew it was time to move on.

In other words, I wanted not Memories of The Colonial Past I Didn’t Have,

Pottery Barn Pearce Sofa.img78o

but, well, you’ll see.  Something more eclectic. A little more personal. How to move forward? Well, when you’re looking online, as I did, you’re going to find mostly whatever is currently in style. As my interior design skills improve, I may look down my nose at trends, but for now, they’re helpful in culling the field – as long as they resonate with my aesthetic and life history.

And thus did both a leather Moroccan pouf and a metal and glass Eileen Gray-like table come to rest my living room.

Some people might put Eileen in an industrial loft.

industrial-living-room and Eileen Gray table

others situate her in a more romantic but minimal Russian apartment. This space seems so poetic to me. Although I imagine the radiator knocks something awful.

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Moroccan poufs play chameleon too. From severe,

to light-filled Swedish,
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to somewhat girly New York spaces once owned by the creator of Sex in the City.

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But Sturdies, no matter how Artsy at heart, like most of all to feel comfortable and at home. We leave our sneakers by the kitchen island, albeit neatly lined up.
Pottery-Barn-Pearce-Loveseat-with-Moroccan-Pouf-and-Eileen-Gray-style-Table
We like harmony, so when we step out of our comfort zone, we look for unifying characteristics in the new land. Like, say, roundness.

Moroccan Pouf on Persian Carpet

And we believe in personal history. I was alive in the 60s, I wore a peace sign on a leather thong as a teen, I am invested in both early 70s hippie culture and mid-century modern.

New-Table-and-Ottoman

In the end, I like the way these two pieces look; they’re extremely useful, and produce in me a small, fluttery sense of confidence. Now it’s time to change out some pillows. I think the patterned one might be too much, well, pattern, given the embroidery on the pouf and the patchwork of the quilt.

I can see how this interiors fiddling gets addictive.

Shopping For Similar Items?

Images:
Pearce Sofa via Pottery Barn
Downtown Loft with Industrial Living Room (Tim Cuppet Architects) via Houzz
Contemporary Russian Apartment with a History via Afflante
13th Avenue Loft (Jessica Helgerson Interior Design) via Houzz
Candace Bushnell’s New York Apartment via Elle Decor
Swedish Apartment via Dust Jacket Attic
Other images my own

Contains affiliate links which may generate commissions.

7 Reasons To Watch “About A Boy” And Hope It Doesn’t Get Canceled, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:01am


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I’ve had a little bug the past couple of days, and in my book, being sick means permission to watch as much television as possible. Yes? In any case, I was hunting for what to watch, being temporarily out of British shows, and stumbled upon bad news. They are quite possibly going to cancel About A Boy.

Huh, you say?

For those who haven’t seen it, and clearly you are many given the May Cancel status, it’s small. Nothing explodes, nobody chews the scenery, no lizards get eaten. The primary cast is made up of just 3 people. Locations involve a school, a side-by-side pair of townhouses, and occasional outings to San Francisco bar mitzvahs and skinny dippers’ hot springs. Such a nice ratio of quotidian to outrageous.

I’ll do a “listsicle” of reasons to watch, because we all know that in this time of Too Much Information, numbers serve a function.

7 Reasons I Love About A Boy

  1. Minnie Driver. Ms. Driver plays, to batty, intelligent, focused perfection, the hippie mother of an 11-year old boy. Accent in place. Named, understandably, Fiona. She doesn’t condescend one bit to the character. Oh, and her clothes! Artsy Cousin par excellence.
  2. Benjamin Stockham. He plays the 11-year boy, Marcus, who is most of all sweet. Dedicated. Nerdy, but in sweetness rather than brilliance. He doesn’t condescend to his character either, despite being in real life, 15. I just love his constant hat.
  3. David Walton. Yes, the show is, if you’d been wondering, based on the Nick Hornby book of the same name. While Hornby usually focuses on the story of the male protagonist, and Walton’s character, Will, follows the Hornby boy-man protocol as the series begins, over time Walton does a deft and generous job of highlighting Driver and Stockham’s more ornate roles. Which is hard, because he’s tall and has good hair.
  4. The ensemble. The 3 main actors have chemistry, meaning they relate to each other, rather than just throwing photons at the cameras.
  5. The actual friendship between a grown man and a grown woman. If the show remains on the air, it’s possible that Will and Fiona will in fact fall in love. But the narrative could feed itself on their friendship alone. The writers avoid the cheap drug of Will-They-Won’t-They.
  6. The deft understatement. Again, they keep the show small. Which means you have time to watch, enjoy, and notice little details like living room furniture. And character.
  7. The innocence. If I try to distill what I like about this show so much – because, let’s be clear, it’s not Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey (closer), or Seinfeld (closer yet) – I wind up at innocence. The characters have open hearts. The actors are playing human beings, even though they aren’t Realistic in the way we’ve grown accustomed to on cable. The show imagines that people like each other, are kind, can learn.

About A Boy is on NBC, Tuesdays, at 9:30pm. Usual Central Time adjustment. But I always watch it online, here. I’d say there’s a bit too much talk about sex for kids under 10, but heck, listening to the radio these days, perhaps I’m old-fashioned. It’s a dear show, and I wish it wouldn’t go away.

If, as it happens, you already knew this, you might want to go here and sign the petition to keep it going. If, on the other hand, you hop over to NBC and take a gander and feel as I do, you might also want to sign. Always optional.

Did I mention that it’s created by the same guy responsible for Friday Night Lights and Parenthood?

I wish everyone a good weekend and good weather. Of course, if it’s cold where you are, you might just be running out of television.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!


gong-xi-fa-cai

In San Francisco’s Chinatown. I’m holding a fortunate purchase from last weekend’s street festival. It was labeled  “pinwheel,” but is actually 8 little pinwheels on a gorgeous gold foil structure,. Happy Year of the Ram/Goat/Sheep take your pick!

Similar clothing, which I wish the technology could make spin like my pinwheel. It was a beautiful day, I walked for almost 2 hours with happy feet. Affiliate links may generate commissions!

Why Are We Better At Certain Kinds Of Style Than Others?


I was very interested to learn that many of you reverse my experience with style. While I am extremely comfortable with clothing but less so with interiors, you love interior style, find clothing more difficult.

Which led me to wonder, why? Why would someone who:

  1. cares about aesthetics,
  2. enjoys implementing them in one area,
  3. might even be highly skilled in that area,

not be comfortable in another? Isn’t design just design, independent of venue?

I have a working hypothesis.

Why Is One Kind Of Style Harder Than Another?

I can think of two solid reasons someone’s capabilities might vary from domain to domain.

  1. One area simply leaves you cold. You don’t care. Granted.
  2. Circumstances don’t warrant the effort. Sometimes we might love personal style, for example, but live on a farm in Wales where it’s more sensible to focus on the right gumboots. Granted.

I can also imagine two reasons that are real, but can be addressed straightforwardly.

  1. Mama Never Told Me. You never learned the ins and outs of, say, dirt. Or cotton. Granted. Information is out there.
  2. Lack of resources.  All available funding goes to kids’ tuition. Granted. Budget style is out there.

Finally, I also know, first-hand, one intractable, stubborn, want-to-put-it-in-a-headlock reason.

  1. The infamous Shame, and its not-at-all Artsy cousin, Disdain.

At least if we can extrapolate from my experience. I was:

  1. raised in beautiful, luxurious, tasteful houses
  2. but never sat with Mom and her decorators to learn anything about how the houses got beautiful
  3. did go clothes shopping with Mom. Often.
  4. grew up bought an apartment in New York, furnished it partially with the help of a friend who was a designer.
  5. got married, moved to California,
  6. bought small ranch house, imported furniture from New York apartment
  7. got (happily) pregnant right after marriage
  8. had small children, haphazardly furnished house for their happiness
  9. went back to work, put in long hours
  10. saw a marriage fail.
  11. moved out of small ranch
  12. bought all Pottery Barn for temporary apartment, leaving small ranch furnishings intact
  13. moved back to small ranch, bringing Pottery Barn with me
  14. saw some of the small ranch’s original furnishings scatter to the wind.
  15. children meanwhile grew up and moved out.
  16. I remarried.
  17. whither now, small ranch, whither now?
Pottery Barn Manhattan Club Chair via Privilege

Not here, clearly. And I am not sure I want my furniture to choose my carbonated beverages.

Throughout most of those years I ignored interior style. Lack of time and lack of resources, sure, but I suspect distress about my marriage, and shame about the fading family fortune, also held me back. Why make beautiful something I didn’t love?

I defended myself from distress by firing up disdain for Trying Too Hard. There you have it my friends, Domestic Aesthetics As Psychoanalyst. I am deep into the process of figuring this out and have moved from sulking to laughing.

Is that how those of you who don’t like personal style feel? Do you wonder, “Why honor and embellish something I don’t love?” Which raises the careful question, does distress about your body, either because it attracts unwanted attention or because it doesn’t fit society’s approved silhouette, block you from enjoying your clothes?

If that resonates, and I do not mean to overreach, there may be personal style lessons to take from what I’ve learned dealing with interiors.

  1. It helps to have the time, but, the time can be fairly easily made.
  2. It helps to have resources, but, you can do this with way less money than you think.
  3. It helps to get comfortable with what you are making beautiful. That’s non-negotiable.
  4. So, how?

Making Personal Style Easier, And Most Of All Happier, If It’s Hard

I see three ways forward.

  1. Just choose to be comfortable. Can we do that? Worth a try. In our 50s? We’re reaching the age of Advanced Style, when only traces of Female remain, but all the Human is still there. Focus on human.
  2. Alternatively, and the approach I know best, work on your body enough to become comfortable. Extra benefit? Better health.
  3. Finally, or in conjunction with a. or b., try what we can call the Pottery Barn for Your Body strategy.

Bonniecov2-retouched-2

a. Choose Comfort

The community can help. Sally at Already Pretty toils long and hard for our body acceptance, and perhaps readers here know of other good resources.

b. Getting a Body With Which You Are Comfortable

You can’t quite buy a new body the way you might a new house. I suppose if resources were no issue, you could hire a chef and a personal trainer. Have plastic surgery. But the most important thing is to develop new habits of eating and moving. I’ve written before about my thoughts on how to do this:

  1.  The High WASP Diet
  2. 25 Ways To Maintain Your Shape at 50+
  3. Building Attractive: Practical Tips
  4. Building Attractive: An Incredibly Metaphysical And Highly Abstract Analysis Which Leads Us Perhaps To The Meaning Of Life

I can write more, if it’s useful. Just let me know.

c. Furnishing A Body When You Wish It Were Better, Or, The “Pottery Barn” Strategy For Clothes

On your way to comfort, and I’m going to trust you will get there, try the equivalent of my Pottery Barn strategy – choose a retailer in your price band and leverage their aesthetic. You don’t have wait on your body for personal style. I am sure J. Crew would gladly outfit anyone with 3-4 modern, stylish, neutral outfits.

Peach is a neutral, by the way, for some.

Once you’re happily dressed, the majority of the time, there’s every chance your perspective will shift.

Peach is a Neutral. From J. Crew via Privilege.

Back when I moved out of my small ranch, I grimly but swiftly bought a faux suede sofa, two “colonial” end tables, two large ceramic lamps, a “colonial” coffee table, and a couple of red and gold pillows. The pillows matched the wall I had asked them to paint burgundy, in that very small temporary apartment.

I am quite sure that choosing “good enough” style made my days more bearable. Matched lamps felt like pillars of stability, I was not yet ready for a harlequin rug. “Good enough” can carry one quite far, even to “And now let’s have some fun.” I’m keeping the sofa, it was innocent and is open now to change.

 

Images:
Pottery Barn room
Bonnie at the Women Enough project
J. Crew

La Garçonne 20% Off Current Sale Prices For President’s Day


Today is the last day of La Garçonne’s President’s Day Sale. Home of Tomboy Luxe, they’re giving us 20% off their already discounted sale, which means some items are now 60% off total. And there’s still good stuff available, with the code LGPD20.

20% off $772.00 will take your final price closer to $600. Invest in drama. Maison Martin Margiela does the tulle hem trend, in silk and polyamide. Being adults, we might even smile, and wash our hair.

MaisonMartinMargielaLine1TulleDress_779657

Or classic shoes from a design house with a legendary name. Rochas lizard-embossed flats. They come in bronze and black, too. Let’s see, at $315 on sale, down from $450, less an additional 20%, that comes to, what, $250-ish?

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Or, just a really, really great sweatshirt in 100% cotton waffle weave. Final price with code, around $60.

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I think this Philip Lim bag is pretty cute too. If you have today off, enjoy the freedom. If you’re working, well, I bet you’re doing a great job, and I’d like to shake your hand.

 

Affiliate links may produce commissions.

The “Marry Ivy” Mom Sure Knows How To Ruin Valentine’s Day, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:13am


New-Name-For-P-ton-Mom

A sad state of affairs. It’s Valentine’s Day, 2015, and the most egregious advice on sex and marriage out there has co-branded an institution I love. No, I’m not referring to Mr. Kinsey and his club, or even Dr. Ruth and her empire, rather, to Susan Patton as the “P*ton Mom.” I’m eliding the university name for reasons that will become clear.

Ms. Patton first came to public attention when she advised young women who attend an Ivy League school to find their husbands among  schoolmates, as anyone they choose later in life would be stupid. I abridge, but, not too much. Recently, Ms. Patton upped the ante by suggesting  on CNN that date rape was a learning experience.

And there, my friends, the patience of reasonable people shattered.

A group of more than 100 of my classmates wrote this letter to the Daily Princetonian. Very gracefully, they manage to make very clear the extent of Ms. Patton’s misstep, without ever mentioning her name.

We are members of Princeton’s Class of 1978 who feel it necessary to speak up about sexual assault and rape in response to the undue repeated attention the media has given to the self-proclaimed “Princeton Mom.” We believe we speak for the great majority of Princeton moms and dads, as well as alumni who do not have children, in saying rape in general — and date rape in particular — is inexcusable, rape survivors deserve our help and support and anyone who sexually assaults another person should be prosecuted legally.

The media noticed.

Time Magazine picked up an article written by Princeton student, Logan Sander. She quoted more of the letter.

“The wider world continues to see this woman dressed in orange and black associating her out-of-touch personal beliefs with our alma mater. We—along with many other alumni—see these views as outrageous and unworthy of being associated with Princeton,”

The Washington Post reported on how the letter came to be written,

Like lots of people, Julie List had seen what a fellow Princeton alumna, Susan Patton, had to say in her book about the importance of finding a man at college. (Manicures and weight loss recommended). List held her tongue.

But when she heard that Patton, who has become known as “the Princeton Mom,” had said some date rapes weren’t rape so much as clumsy hookups that could be a “learning experience” for women, List couldn’t take it.

“I became really enraged. I was boiling mad,” said List, a therapist in New York, after hearing about Patton’s December interview on CNN. “She’s basically telling these young women that it’s their fault that they got raped.”

Facebook conversations ensued, the letter was written and sent.

The Chronicle of Higher Education noticed, so did Salon.

And Jezebel headlined (asterisks mine),

Mortified Classmates Of P*ton Mom Wish She’d Shut The F*ck Up

Well. At least no one’s confused. Except. One lingering issue remains. Can we stop calling her P*ton Mom. How about if I ask nicely? Send a valentine?

I can’t bear her co-opting Old Nassau’s brand any longer.

We might call her “Date Rape Mom,” but that would be inappropriate, and recommit her sin, i.e. trivializing a serious issue. So, may I suggest, “Marry Ivy Mom?” I’d propose “Marry Smart Mom” but that’s the title of her book and let’s not market her.

In all seriousness, Princeton, like all trusted organizations, needs to watch out for its reputation and behaviors around abuse of power. The university was known for anti-Semitism in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s time, and has been until recently one of the less diverse Ivies. Some eating clubs still suffer from bad actors. I am glad my alma mater takes a stand against against Ms. Patton’s stupidities. Luckily, the faculty had already spoken up, even before my class got involved.

My experience as a student, as I have said before, here, and here, was complicated. When my parents left their High WASP world, they drove fast, they took a train that didn’t stop. Although I loved my academic work to the point of intoxication, I was wholly confused by Old American social strata and mores. Even so, I remain a devoted alumna to this day.

As proof, I sent both my beloved children to New Jersey, from whence they take their sweet time in returning.

Ms. Patton shouldn’t be allowed to piggyback on what’s good about Princeton, and that about Princeton which needs to improve shouldn’t be masked, or supported, by her idiocy, sound, and fury.

I thank you in advance for your consideration. Have a wonderful weekend, whether you’re a fan of El Big Red Heart or not.

 

The 2 Key Questions To Ask In Articulating Your Style: Clothing, House, Or Garden


Chanel jacket with wide trousers as example of evocative fashion

Now that I’m writing about 3 areas of style – fashion, house, and garden – I notice a couple of commonalities. Seems to me in articulating style, of any sort, we need to ask ourselves 2 primary questions.

  1. What must our style do for our physical selves?
  2. What effect do we want to create, and for whom?

The answers can be quite multi-faceted, of course. The needs and constraints of the physical self break into smaller and smaller components.

  • Clothes: into heel height, strategies for 3 feet of snow, the number of compartments you like in your handbag.
  • Gardens, into how much maintenance you’re willing and able to do, do you require shade, light, food, or flowers, as well as will you want play space? Oh yes, and geography. We always live somewhere specific.
  • Interiors, into all the use patterns of your life and your family, and again, your geography.

This is the stuff we solve for together, in the blogosphere. Non-dowdy flats that stay on your feet, tops that survive cross-Atlantic flights, plants deer won’t eat, new ways to fix cracks in concrete walkways, we figure it out.

Garden view through trees as example of evocative landscape design

I also find the second question quite fascinating – and less discussed. What effect do we want to create, and for whom? I’ll start with myself, since that’s what I know.

  • In fashion, I focused quite intently on the the gaze of the stranger. I used to want to create the effect of nonchalant elegance, intelligence, and a sophisticated but classic aesthetic. Nowadays, I don’t care so much about the nonchalant. I am edging Artsy, it is an effort, and because it’s an honest effort that I make for myself, I don’t mind letting people know.
  • In gardens, I’ve realized that out front I want to create the effect of being a pretty good citizen, with pretty good taste, doing a pretty good job of tending her house. I don’t want to make a big show, but I don’t want to let down the side either. In the back yard, the effect is for myself. I want to feel as though I’m miles away from other people, as though civilization can’t interrupt me, and resources for beauty are ample. Tricky, that, in a suburban lot.
  • My wishes for interiors have been the hardest to analyze. I think I do not want to create any effect other than serenity, comfort and harmony, for myself and my loved ones. But I know for sure I do not want to see any signs of trying for an effect. Tricky, again.

Of course, the question of effect can be explored more deeply. In order to communicate the complexities of what we’re after, we create typologies, like, The Artsy Cousin, The California Mid-Century Modern Garden (camellias, azaleas, jasmine), The Classic High WASP Family House. Or, drawing from archives other than my own, The Over-30 Parisienne, The English Cottage Garden, The Bohemian Swedish Apartment (where do they get all that bright light, we wonder?!).

And some may feel the effect they are after is purely aesthetic. But I find it very hard to separate aesthetics from feelings, in style. Even a love for red plaid brings other meaning quickly on its heels.

Farrow and Ball wallpaper as an example of evocative interior design

It’s so interesting the way the desired effect changes across domains. What we want in our clothes may not be what we want in our gardens, and may in fact be antithetical to what we want in our houses.

How about you? Do you have a unified approach? Do you show your self in your clothes the same way you do in your house? Or does each variant of your style satisfy different needs?

Top 2 photos, Tumblr to Pinterest maze here, and here, pinned by Tara Dillard. Bottom photo, Farrow and Ball.

A Fairly Thoughtful And Just-In-Time Valentine’s Day Gift Guide


We give traditional presents on Valentine’s Day not because we lack imagination, but because our forebears were rolling in smarts. February and love call in fact for the shiny, the cuddly, the floral, and the significant. Needless to say, tradition can be upheld in intelligent, modern, and ethical ways.

For The Women In Our Lives, Who Might Just Be Us

Jewelry For, Or From, Your Darling

I can’t think of any reason not to give pre-owned, or vintage jewelry. Price, environmental impact, and sheer desire for beauty, all conspire. If budget is in fact no object, this Chanel bracelet is still available at the vintage and consignment jewelry store, Beladora. I swear Chanel’s spoofing the iconic Cartier “LOVE” bracelet. Cheeky indulgence, even better. $6750.

Vintage-Chanel-18K-Bracelet

But, more realistically perhaps, we might like a charm with meaning. For the gardener in your life, to wear around her neck. $95. In my experience Beladora ships very, very quickly.

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Sleep And Bedwear For Everyone’s Hearts’ Desires

Instead of itchy lingerie, give comfy flannel pajama bottoms. They really do make the best house pants. I wouldn’t mind a pair printed with swans, who mate for life. $14.99. Wanting to make sure bird romance wasn’t an urban myth, I looked it up.

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Then, because Valentine’s Day is about passion as well as comfort, add a bra like this, from net-a-porter. $320. Decadence Zizanie indeed, but worth it perhaps if your mate loves purple. (This stretch silk number offers underwire support, and is available in sizes up to 34F.)

Or, instead, a matching tank, because, you know, it’s a little cold out there. Sturdy Gals are fine with transparent but they’d rather not freeze. $106.50.

 

TRENT1821_GEMST_FT_FR_LCosabella has so many options. I’d pay for express shipping, just to be sure.

Valentine’s Day For The Men In Our Lives

Stems And Blossoms

Let’s say you are buying for a man. I say, send flowers. Look for an artisanal local florist, which here in San Francisco might bring you to Studio Choo’s special Valentine’s Day shop. They offer 3 different color palettes, this one is “Monterey Bay.” The large arrangement is $200, but smaller ones are available. You could present this bouquet, by hand. (Edit: Breaking news. Today Gardenista posted a guide here for online/local florists across the country.)

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If you can’t source locally, find a shipper that makes the effort to keep environmental impact low and laborer working conditions high. I used Organic Bouquet last year with good results. This year they’re offering a special. Buy one dozen roses and you get one dozen free. Two dozen roses is always better, three, in my opinion, is best. What? Valentine’s Day comes only once a year. $50, plus shipping. $10 extra for delivery on Saturday. And yes, this year February 14th falls on a Saturday.

OrganicBouquet-Valentine's-Day

Keeping Time

Of course, given ubiquitous phone clocks, watches take on new meaning. Linkshare introduced me to Uniform Wares. Designing in London, manufacturing watches in Switzerland, and straps in France, Italy and Germany. They allow you to mix and match the match and several bands. This one’s steel and stingray. How’s that for 35 mm of minimalist luxury? $1,100, free shipping worldwide.

c35-psi-01_01_GreyGaluchat_uniformwares_face_large

If you’re thinking mid-range, I like Bulova. $260.87.

Bulova Accutron II For Valentine's Day

 

Is it time for the brand to have a retro-chic moment? I say yes. Especially in forest green, and discounted on Amazon.

And let us never forget the Sturdy standby, Timex. They offer a discount right now on their site: 15% Off Almost Everything with code TRULUV. 2 day shipping available for $12.95.

TRULUV, AKA the first vanity license plate I’ve ever wanted.

For Your Little Pats Of Butter

Do you give your kids presents for Valentine’s Day? Sometimes I do. And my favorite gift for my peewees, big as they are? Fancy no-phtalate, no-paraben, hair and body products from Sephora to replace their budget big-box standards. Here’s what I’m thinking for this year.

For the boy child living in cold, cold Brooklyn: Anthony Glycolic Face Wash, Anthony Oil-Free Facial Lotion

For the redheaded ringleted girl child: Ouidad Curl Recovery Sulfate-Free Shampoo, Oiudad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner (anything to help save time in medical school)

Finally, because we should always consider Not Buying Anything, send your beloved a link to this movie trailer. From South Korea, My Love, Don’t Cross That River is the story of two very old people married for 75 years, and the love they show each other in all their actions. Many thanks to Ronni Bennet, at the excellent Time Goes By, for the link. And love, in all guises, to all.

 

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Earning The Right To Scold, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:29am


Hot-Cross-Buns

In retirement, I’ve been thinking about doing good. I confess that as a mother of small children, and then a manager and executive in technology, I cared less about virtue than excellence in my work. As a result, I’ve come at Good with the energy and naivete of a newbie.

I include my emergent thoughts here, on Saturdays abstractly, and on weekdays specifically – teasing out what ethical commerce and lifestyle initiatives I might support. To be sure, my efforts are patchy, intermittent, and a little plodding. But they’re not nothing.

I do get scolded.

Which made me wonder, scolding, does it actually contribute to our collective virtue? Does it make us better overall? And if so, how?

The village scold has been part of human culture for centuries. I think she played a useful function. I imagine a middle-aged woman, aproned, floured, wagging her finger at an errant youth. I imagine said youth either chastened or arrogant and laughing. But I also imagine that said youth couldn’t run away altogether from the scolder’s intent.

Villages were small. Families stayed put.

Today, I think if we want to scold someone with effect, we have to earn the trust of those we would make better.

People become adult precisely by coming to believe that they know what they are doing, that they have understood some things. When confronted with evidence to the contrary, i.e. when shamed, many of us activate self-defense mechanisms. “How do you know? There’s no science! You’re weird! That’s too hard! I’m good enough!” Or maybe that’s just me.

I used to respond strongly to shame. Maybe as do all well-loved children. My father would call me into his study, to stand on the Persian carpet. It was 1964, I was eight, he sat behind a Danish modern desk. Even seated he was tall. If I backed up I bumped into a low bookshelf filled with Encyclopedia Brittanica volumes. I didn’t move. I listened to him tell me what I had done wrong and I believed him. I felt it in my body. Although it hurt, I didn’t want to run. Shame works when you are cared for, and even so, should be used with caution.

Now, I respond to scolding when I trust the scold. Who do I trust? The kind. The consistent. Those who clearly live the precepts they profess. Those who have shown themselves vulnerable. Just being in the right isn’t enough, we humans love to squirm into gray areas, and we need a hand to keep us honest. Or maybe that’s just me.

Please do not stop speaking up for what is right, here. I am learning even though I’m a pretty good squirmer.

Maybe the same effort which gives us the right to scold does all kinds of other good? Who would object to intimacy, kindness, constancy, truth? Maybe the village finger-wagger was also a baker, sneaking hot and sugared currant buns to the the dirtiest of children? Maybe she burned their tongues just a little and it was OK.

 

 

Hot cross bun photo via Alpha on Flickr