Thursday, December 17, 2009

My "List" Just Got a Little Shorter!

For me blogging this month has been like sending out Christmas cards–I really want to do it, but I haven't yet. So to take one more thing off my list, I'm signing off through the New Year. I'm looking forward to lots of holiday cheer, celebrating His coming, and diving into those domestic hobbies I love. Of course The Stylist in me has embraced the spirit–I've bought some sparkly stuff, sequined black pants, to be specific.

In 2-10 I'll be flexing my travel-writing, fashion-styling muscle as I develop this blog, dress clients old and new, network with fellow writers and editors, and followup on a few great "possibilities." I look forward to reporting on new destinations and "style-to-go."

Thanks to all of you that have dropped by MyStylist to read. My hope is that it remains a fun and valuable diversion in your busy lives.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,


Friday, December 4, 2009

Day Tripping from Cap Maison in St. Lucia

Now this sounds like a great vacation side trip, especially for a girlfriend’s getaway:

Wake up in a villa at Cap Maison in St. Lucia. Next, saunter down to the restaurant perched above the sea at the northern most tip of the island. Here, the Caribbean and Atlantic meet. Waves and dark coffee say, “Good morning.” Take Cap Maison’s motor yacht to Martinique. Arrive there about 9:30am for breakfast. Discover Fort de France as you shop Parisian style at the duty free boutiques (Chanel, Hermes) or “go native” and explore the local markets. Return to Cap Maison in time for an afternoon cocktail, poolside or on the beach, made with seasonal fresh fruit. Or, keep with the theme of the day and partake in the chef’s selection of French wine and cheeses. Take a nap, or perhaps read, back at the villa, again poolside. Yes. The villa comes with a pool…

Cap Maison reminds me of a combination of architecture you might find while cruising the Mediterranean­–a little bit of Morocco meets Greece. Throw in some Southern Spain, add a little Malta. However the overall flavor of the resort puts you in Mexico. This may sound hodge-podge, but it works. The buildings are stucco, stark white, and their edges curve and slope caressing the sky. They say lack of sun can make you depressed. I wonder if boxy shaped architecture puts you in a bad mood too. Cap Maison would be the antidote for both.

The resort opened last year in time to celebrate British Airway’s direct service to St. Lucia. Jet Blue now has non-stop service from JFK too. It was the dream child of the Goblat family who lives on premises and wanted to parlay their adjacent landholdings into, “…the best of all the resorts we (they) ever stayed at.” The resort is comprised of 22, one, two and three bedroom villas. There are 49 keys; so guests have the option of staying in a private, adjacent bedroom to one of the villas. It’s deluxe and pretty much everything you could want from a swank resort.

My sunshiny moments…

• Wading in the roof deck pool of “My Villa” with views of the resort in the foreground and the sea in the background.

• Taking a sunset cruise on the resort’s motor yacht. (They offer a “Stay and Sail” package­–cruise the Islands for three to four days and then stay at the resort.)

• Eating the homemade shortbread cookies delivered to my room upon arrival. They killed me.

• Bobbing in an ocean warmer than most pools. You could see your toes through the clear water and the beach cove setting reminded me of the make-out scene from, Here to Eternity.

• Sipping a passion fruit margarita that truly was the best I’ve ever had in my life. E-v-e-r.

• Dining…waves below, the soft, smooth taste of a lovely Chardonnay matching the smooth feeling of my skin post massage (Yes, they do have a spa.) And the food; we began with lobster consommé, then were presented with a Tapas plate of duck roulade and foie gras, but I can’t tell you about the last tasty morsel because I put my pen down to savor the food and the experience!

Friday, November 27, 2009

More East Winds...

Dinner at East Winds is elegantly served with proper and traditional cutlery. I appreciated my fish knife and fork. I warned you about fussy service...

The only Steinway grand piano on the island is at East Winds and it is a fitting addition to the low-key, high taste, experience. Like the single camellia decorating the table, the Steinway accompaniment gives the atmosphere an element of simplicity and ease. You can literally hear the lapping sea beneath the music, coupled with the wine, linens and a candlelight dining, you feel like floating away! The palm frond roof overhanging this large round “beach hut” dining room, known as the Flamboyant Room is, to say the least, ideal–the food, fresh, flavorful and uncomplicated.

A rondoval room is a hexagonal shaped room. According to GM Leach, they’re found in East Africa and a few other West Indian Islands. East Wind’s rondovals are situated in the middle, low-point of the property, hugged by the botanical landscape. We were told that they often are blessed with a soft breeze. Nice, because these rooms do not have air conditioning. Nevertheless, they were my favorite of the three room categories East

Winds has to offer. And they were the least expensive! Until Christmas week these rooms are $470 per night based on double occupancy. Considering, this is an all-inclusive resort, with a boutique hotel feel, this is a very good value. The 30 rooms throughout the resort share a similar décor–tasteful, simple, with a touch of “stylish beach cottage” thrown in.

The Bamboo Lounge was the hippest room at East Winds. Guest can enjoy this lounge for evening cocktails or Champaign or a morning coffee. Again, it is a round room with built in “coves” for seating. The aqua and coral color combination of the upholstery fabric as well as the ratan furnishing work together to create an ideal contemporary “West Indian” design experience. Sit here, and you relax. Walk out to the beach and you escape...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Low Key, High Service, East Winds Inn, St. Lucia

Gareth Leach, General Manager of East Winds Inn in St. Lucia told me that often his staff will tell him, “Don’t worry, you can go do something else.” He isn’t being plied with the cliché Caribbean phrase, “Don’t worry, be happy.” It is actually true; they will get the job done without him hovering. After 18 years at East Winds, Leach says, “I’ve always found St. Lucians to be very well motivated.”

Housekeeper, Merle Prospere, has been at East Winds for 20 years. Some of the gardeners celebrating their ten-year, or more, are familiar faces to East Winds guests returning again and again. One English woman I met was vacationing at East Winds for the tenth year in a row. Obviously the resort is serving up a vacation formula that works flawlessly for their clients, while keeping themselves contentedly employed! A first time guest, expressed, “It’s pretty near perfect!” This is what makes it so…

East Winds offers a very intimate, appropriately elegant, without being up tight, vacation experience. Recreation is basic, off the grid, and to my mind charmingly English–ping pong, shuffleboard, reading (there are books available in all the common rooms). If you’re a garden enthusiast, the grounds are lovely and one can identify tropical plants with the help of a printed guide. A new yoga space is available with classes twice per week. It is a large, elevated, open roof pavilion, with no walls on three sides and glossy floors. You can do your downward dog and see the

birds and blooms–feel the breeze.

While an East Winds vacations seems low-key and no-fuss, the staff does seem to fuss over you. A vegetarian may check out Chefs menu by 2pm. If there isn’t anything that peeks his or her fancy, Chef will meet with said vegetarian to create additional menu choices for that evening. Gluten free travelers can bring their own gluten-free flour and the East Winds kitchen will bake bread for them. Tea is served every afternoon. The swim up pool bar is self-service. Here, kids do love to “play bartender” but staff is also

available to prepare a special drink or two or…. And I should mention that all alcohol, including Champaign, is included in the price of your room, as is all dining.

And a lovely dining experience it is! See my next post for further details on that front.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ladera, Above and Beyond

I feel like my life is something out of "Where In The World is Waldo" book. Today I'm on the island of St. Lucia, the Ladera resort, to be specific. This hotel's tagline is honest and accurate. It is way Above the bay below, situated on a steep hillside (small mountain, really) with views of St. Lucia's iconic Piton Mountains, left and right. It is Beyond any Caribbean fantasy I've ever had. Perhaps I'm not dreaming large enough! I've selected a few photos here to give you an idea of what this open-air hotel is like, but they don't compare to the real thing. Below are just a few reasons why I'm loving this spot on


• No need for moisturizer. The air has a smooth, thick velvety quality. You can get a real lung full of oxigen. Why? It's tropical, essentially a rain forest. I'm staving off a cold and
the air quality seems medicinal. Not to mention the Black Water Baths. (Ac
tually I will mention them another time!)

• I did say tropical. Flora, fauna and fruit of exotic varieties are hanging

and winding and boasting their way throughout the resort. The word paradise comes to mind.

• GM, Warren "Waddy" Francis said Ledera is "... different than what has been coming on the island the last couple years. We're authentic and we want to remain authentic." The tree-house experience of the multi level "artisan" villas coupled with the "treasure island" views is almost u
nreal! But it is authentic, actually just what you might expect, but at the same time, you kind-of can't believe it!

• Taking an "open air" shower, no doors, just two walls, seeing the cove below and a cloudy sunset beyond the horizon, gives a whole new meaning to outdoorsy. Oh, and the shower has mosaic walls. One, is of a giant tulip, the other, a daisy. Cheerful.

I know I've been blogging about Italy lately and St. Lucia is a 360. They are entirely opposite, but both pallets are full to bursting with visual bounty... Here comes a big rain...The tree frogs' song is high-pitched and chirping...
Must get ready for dinner. Would love to get some comments! Caio, or later my friend?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Close Encounter With A Saint

Prior to visiting The Basilica of Saint Anthony, known to the people of Padua as Il Santo (The Saint), two different friends on two different occasions told me of their emotional encounter with visiting "Saint Anthony." A good friend from my church in Pelham, NY told me that when he visited the Cathedral, he was moved to tears by the spectacle of believers praying on, and around Saint Anthony's tomb. He explained that written intentions and photographs are shoved in lattice work flanking the tomb. Even though he prepared me for the visual abundance of prayers, needs, intervention requests and devotions I would encounter, I was still humbled by the "crying out" of pilgrims quietly asking Il Santo for help. And I too, was moved to tears.

I saw a huge, muscular black man with palms and forehead touching the foot of Anthony's tomb, bowing in prayer. His stance of humility and devotion was moving... I saw countless pictures, especially of children, in the lattice work. Believers of every age and race were bringing their concerns to His alter. I was there in the evening just before closing. This turned out to be the best time to visit. I found this out a few days later when I returned at mid-day. Then, it was noisy, frenetic and busy with tourist. But my first encounter will be the one I will always remember. It doesn't take much for me to pray. I do it often. I was grateful to have the opportunity for some quite prayer and reflection in this semi-dark 13th century masterpiece of Roman and Gothic architecture.

Most Catholics will tell you that St. Anthony is who you go to to pray for lost things, either actual things, or lost hope, or faith. I am a Catholic, but raising my kids Episcopalian. This discussion is complicated and off topic for this blog. Visiting Il Santo did get me back to my Catholic roots. I relished the imposing grandeur and sumptuous artifacts filling the many sanctuaries of this Basilica, all dedicated to the glory of God.

What to Do:

Besides witnessing the faithful at Saint Anthony's tomb make sure you see The Chapel of the Relics (Treasury Chapel). My boy would have loved this. Here you'll find in a spectacular reliquary (a big opulent gold urn-type vessel) Saint Anthony's tongue! Above this is a reliquary of his jaw bone. Still another holds his voice box. Saint Anthony was known to preach with great fervor and learning. It is documented that he traveled thousands of kilometers preaching to tens of thousands of faithful. Perhaps it is fitting that these "vocal relics" remain in tact for both the faithful and curious to see.

If you feel called, visit the Blessings Chapel too. A Franciscan priest is available to bless visitor and pilgrims. It's a quiet, intiment chapel, not terribly intimidating and a blessing, said in Latin or Italian, can be good for the soul. Especially one that has been preoccupied by commitments of work or family.

What to Wear:

As with any Catholic Basilica the world over, do not wear shorts or no sleeves (I'm not sure if this applies to Saint Peter's in New York City, however). You may wear long pants and short sleeves. Dresses or skirts that are not too short are allowed. Many a faithful have been turned away from Cathedral doors by their attire, so consider what you are wearing before you go and dress respectfully.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Padova, known as the city of frescos, but check out the Ghetto

Between Venezia and Vicenza lies the university town of Padova. From science to art, Galileo to Giotto, Padova says to visitors, "I am smart, accomplished, artistic and civilized. Look at me." One becomes dizzy trying to fathom the art, science and culture that this city has harbored over several centuries.

What to do: No visit would be complete without a seeing The Basilica of St. Anthony, but that is an entire discussion for another post.

A smaller less "important" destination attracted me, the former Ghetto. Via S. Martino e Solferino marks the center of the Ghetto. Beginning in the 14th century Jews established a neighborhood in this area of the city. Then in the 17th century 4 doors quite purposefully segregated them from the rest of the populous.

Obviously space in the Ghetto was at a premium, causing many homes to grow up
instead of out. Today the neighborhood is cozy and welcoming. Lanterns oozing a golden glow and narrow pathways, invite tourists, friends and neighbors to linger. Much like New York City's lower-east-side Jewish neighborhoods, the Ghetto has gentrified, groove-i-fied really. It's all chic house-ware stores, shoe stores, local fashion boutiques, and funky bars and restaurants. So if given the time what you might do, is shop!

What to eat: We stopped at Bar Corte Sconta on Via Dell'Arco. This was a small bar open to the street serving up assorted crostini, including a local favorite of baccala, or cod. Swigging Soave, a personal favorite (imported from just miles away), we journalist welcomed a chance to just hang.

Where to stay: Hotel Majestic Toscanelli. I ducked in to this hotel to grab a brochure. Attracted to the facade and the location, it looked like a nice, reasonable four star–but I can't recommend it beyond that.

More on Padova, the Basilica, and an outstanding lunch next.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vicenza: the city of Palladio

MyStylist-Travel Advisory

Where to go:

Located in the center of the Veneto Region, Vicenza is an architectural dream-scape. Connect with a narrative history of architecture at its finest. Take in that which is Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-classic and more. This "theater-city" is a must on anyones itinerary exploring the region.

What to do:

Get a guide. Ours was Monica Facchini. Monica and her colleagues will customize a tour for a group from one to 50 people. The tour may encompass Vincenz's "Pallidio" city center, as well as several of the 16 Palladian Villas in the Vicenza provence.

The breathtaking Teatro Olimpico is a must see. This is the first modern public theatre built and used during the Renaissance. It screams, Shakespeare. Palladio's design direction was to build a theater in the "Roman Style." Mission accomplished, and how! Commissioned by the Accademia Olimpica in 1555, an organization which still meets in the theater, Oedipus Rex is one of many plays you can see at Teatro Olimpico today (from Spring to Autumn, plan ahead).

Palladio did not live to see his full design executed, the architect, Vincenzo Scamozzi realized the Olimpico dream. Scamozzi's use of architectural perspective, creating the illusion of seemingly endless streets on the stage is extraordinary. As is his use of trompe l'oeil throughout the building.

Ever conscious of budgetary constraints, Palladio requested that all statuary to be made from stucco. Napoleon had a mind to rip them off, but was dissuaded when he found out they were not real marble. Sometimes it pays to watch your lira.

What to wear:

As I mentioned in older posts. Italian women are fashionable and sexy. Live your Sophia Loren fantasy, put on a Ferragamo scarf, grab a Furla bag, drape on some gold*, wear a push up bra and let Vicenza celebrate your architecture. (But wear comfortable shoes!)

*Note: Vicenza is a leading European gold industrial area with over 1,200 firms crafting traditional to modern designs...all in gold...hum...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Italy, 411

I'm hounded repeatedly by Max Hartshorne of GoNOMAD to blog, blog, blog. It builds community around your passions, for me that's style and travel, it promotes your business, that's MyStylist and travel writing, and it hones your editorial and writing skills. Unfortunately, I drop the "blog plate" sometimes. Last week, case in point. So here I am again, endeavoring to spin more blogs about my trip to the Veneto Region of Italy. Obviously, I'm back home, laundry is done, kids can once again hear my familiar nagging voice. Will they ever hang up their wet towels?

Before I get started on the "stylishly special" things about the region, I wanted to share with you some basic and very useful information about planning a trip to Italy:

You should know about The Italian Travel Promotion Council (ITPC). This is a trade organization of reputable American tour operators in Italy. These tour operators offer the best and most creative solutions for designing a memorable trip to Italy, taking their customer's interests and passions into account. You may ask, "Why engage a tour operator? Why not craft my own tour using the internet?" Entirely possible. BUT many, many people do not engage a stylist to help them with their wardrobe. However, if they did, the outcome would be better (shameless plug, I know)! AND using a tour operator doesn't necessarily mean you'll be paying more for your trip (using a good stylist can save you money too).

A few interesting tour operators I met during my trip that I highly recommend:

The Parker Company, Mario Scalzi is a big, burly, take charge guy who is going to rent you an Italian villa and take all your varied needs and wants into account while doing so.
Perillo Tours, admittedly I was skeptical about this well know brand, but Steve Perillo and his Italian counterpart, know their stuff. They're proud of the company's history and they've got a gold mind of institutional knowledge clients can benefit from.
The International Kitchen, I'm dying to try one of these tours. I personally enjoyed a lovely meal with these folks and if their hospitality at the table is as good as their tours, I'm sold. For anyone who loves to cook, eat and travel, check them out!
Distinctive Journeys International, no-nonsense Anna Pappas-Carroll crafts high-end custom tours to give you access to places of style, "distinction," and taste.

As with any travel planning, check out the government sponsored tourist links:

Italian Tourism and specific to the Veneto Region, Regione del Veneto

Expect several more MyStylist–Travel Advisories on the Veneto Region this week! And please comment!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fashion in the Veneto

Italian women are very sexy. There is a confidence in their sexuality that many, most really, American women just don't possess. Often, when American women want to "look sexy" they either hit you over the head with it or it's too controlled–they don't take any chances. The Italian women I've seen the last couple days (in Verona, Treviso, Padova and Vincenza) dress. They must think about what they wear and calculate the impression it has on everyone else and they probably take their clothing choices into account no matter where they are going or what they are doing. Furthermore, it is not just young women I'm talking about. Middle-aged women are every bit in control of their sexuality and fashion as the young college students I saw in Padova. They're pushing the envelope on what might be appropriate, in a good way. An American woman might get a "double take" if she dawned that faux fur belted vest (I bought one)... but isn't that the point?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


"Lets visit a historical home!" My children head for the hills and ten times further. Before they had choices about what to do on vacation, I dragged them to many a golden-age mansion, and colonial era village. I love peeking into another age, the rich and famous of yesteryear. I'm sure my kids will appreciate it again someday soon (they better).

The Veneto region of Italy is chalk-full of villas open to the public. Yesterday on our way from Venice to Verona we visited Vill Pisani in Venezia. It has the distinction of being able to say, "Napoleon once slept here." No really, Bonaparte slept there, once, as in one time. He bought the Villa from the Pisani family, slept there once, and then gave it to his stepson. For the occasion of his slumber, he had a bed and bathroom specifically and grandly designed. The bathroom is of note because it is the only bathroom in the Villa of well over 100 rooms that has an en-suite bathroom, very progressive for the time. The bath itself is sunk into the floor.

I do think
the kids would have enjoyed this home. There is a grand garden with a maze that, no
kidding, you needed markers to navigate. At the very least, the kids could go crazy finding
their way out of the maze while Mom and Dad checked out the stable (Martha Stewart eat your heart out.) pictured right.

Just to update: Got my luggage, have a new BF, the editor of Travel Girl magazine, the weather is spec
tacular (This California girl loves that!) and I dined in a Veronese Villa last night (What don't some American men understand about "no jeans"). Check out the view from my window.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Venice, Without Clothes

It's ironic that I'm beginning day two in Venice without my luggage. I've created an entire blog about style and travel and so the what-to-pack, what-to-wear thing is probably way too important to me. Is this my comeuppance, a get over yourself, Cathie, message? Happily, I didn't wear a sweatsuit on the plane (as you know, I think they're the worst), but instead, very comfortable cashmere bellbottoms with matching sleeveless shell and shawl, all in black. The outfit worked fine last night at the Ristorante Gran Caffe Quadri where we were introduced to the dignitaries of the Italian Tourist Board who are hosting this Italian Travel Symposium of the Veneto region.

Venice is, and always will be, the one dressed up. She's the dowager of finery, style and romance. My lost luggage is a blip on her radar and for that matter, as I'm swooning over her beauty, lost luggage doesn't matter to me either.

The gondoliers in striped shirts, the waiter in white dress coat–now that's trade-style that could, and has been, rehashed by countless designers. Would they let me borrow their shirts, jackets? There is a Chanel store on the corner in the building of this hotel, Luna Hotel Baglioni, perhaps I should pop in for new blouse? But no, it's not about me...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Wilde" in Manhattan

Last night my husband I went to an art gallery and saw his own work! As I've mentioned before, he's an art director and photographer and a few of his graphic design pieces were at the gallery. Entitled, The Wilde Years: Four Decades of Shaping Visual Culture, the exhibition captures the professional work of commercial artists who have graduated from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan during the 40-year tenure of Department Chair Richard Wilde. It is a energetic show chronicling exciting graphic design and advertising work. It runs until November 7th and is at SVA's Visual Arts Gallery, 601 West 26th Street. The space(s), on the 15th floor, has an adjoining outdoor terrace capturing a 180 degree view of downtown Manhattan. The weather, the view and the ultra cool arty crowd made for a real, "I love New York" evening.

Driving into the city to go meet Tom (Husband) at dusk from our home 15 miles north, I had one of those travel; stop, look and listen moments. I was on the West Side Highway and the sun was glistening on the Hudson, I drove past the Boat Basin at 79th Street, boats anchored, bobbed hello. Continuing past Trump Plaza to my left and Jersey's waterfront buildings across the water, I thought to myself even Trump's buildings look like something more than an upright shoe boxes tonight–I love where I live (okay there was no traffic and U2 was playing on the radio) but was a beautiful night in Manhattan and the city itself was pea-cocking. And I didn't have to take a long flight to experience it!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Looking Right from Morning to Night

Okay, there has been tons of stuff written about how to go from a morning to evening look without actually changing clothes. Weirdly, it's a subject that fascinates me. I'm going to Italy for GoNOMAD next week. It's a press trip hosted by the Italian Tourist Board. The itinerary looks delicious, both from a culinary and cultural prospective. It says "no jeans." Anyone who knows me will understand just how psyched I am about this mandate. Meanwhile, I imagine most of my fellow journalist traveling, groaning.

We'll be moving around a lot–Venice, Verona and Padova and we mostly will not be able to go back to the hotel to change into "evening attire." So here's my strategy: I clipped the article, Surviving a Grueling Work Day With Style, and I'm following it like the holy grail. The article, by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, is an interview with Nina Garcia who is both Marie Claire's Fashion Director and a judge on "Project Runway." The gist is to start with a layered outfit and "unpeel" as the day and evening wears on. Do the exact opposite with makeup–add more for night. The article is bursting with other tips and tricks and is worth archiving! Check it out.

If any of you have ideas about day to evening, or can share some how tos, post a comment. We all want to know!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Stylist and Her Backup - How to provide good clients great service

There are several ways I shop when styling a client. Often it is on my own or with an assistant. I usually purchase the clothes and bring them to the client for a fitting. The fitting could take place at their home, a photo studio, or a hotel. I have a long standing relationship with Studio Service at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and over the years I've done many fittings through this department.

Today I took a chance on Nordstrom. I called the Store Manager, Tracie Bolton at the Westchester Nordstom at the very last minute to ask for a VIP dressing room. She provided me with a very nice room within a half hour of my call, by the time we walked in the store they were ready for us. A large dressing room, with bottled water and security (to dump our pocketbooks) was at my disposal. My client was pleased. Clients are paying for my knowledge and expertise (mostly), but that's not all, it's critical that the store provides excellent service and plenty of wardrobe options as well–the store is my backup. I premeditate where I shop for clients and I am especially careful about where I take them if they choose to shop with me.

Nordstrom graciously and efficiently helped us. We went from department to department and were able to "pull merch." and bring everything back to the one dressing room. They sent shoes I requested up to the dressing room to build on an outfit. The tailor arrived immediately. We were offered additional beverages. And when it was time to make purchases, we were in a rush and they hustled. All these niceties make a difference.

My client purchased enough pieces to create between 10 and 15 fall outfits (in two and half hours). I wanted to push her towards all those rich carmel colors of this season; browns, creams, oatmeal, camel... I don't think she bought one thing in black! She got a fun, bright top and gold flats that she's wearing with awesome fitting jeans to a party Saturday in Manhattan. A little leopard silk blouse went beautifully with brown slacks or velvety cords, and a long cozy oatmeal sweater. We got the hook-up from Lafayette 148 in the way of an burnt orange Loro Piana short blazer with patch pockets. This went great with brown pants and cream tops...

And I could go on, but stylist, shrink and hair dresser...must keep clients/friends secrets!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Blouse of a Different Color

Last night I was at a dinner party and the same blouse I was wearing came into to the room on a very attractive blond. We both graciously complimented each other, laughed a little and then segued into pre-dinner conversation over wine, spreads and nuts... It was a lovely evening made particularly special by hosts that obviously enjoy entertaining and are good at it!

Sarah and I were wearing a J. Crew ruffle blouse. The funny thing was I decided to wear it because I had run into our hostess, Christie, at J. Crew and later received an invitation from her to dinner. I figured since J. Crew prompted the invite, I should wear the top. Maybe Christie had run into Sarah at J. Crew too? Anyway, as I was making my purchases that day, I was asking myself, "Is it a mistake to buy from this brand?" After several years they've re-entered my lexicon. I've been liking their catalog and ads and I had seen a couple pieces in client's closets that I've liked. BUT the stores are everywhere and while they push the envelope on color choices (Sarah's blouse was black, mine is cream) in various styles, their designs are safe with broad appeal. It's mass, in a good way, but still, lots of the same stock to a broad customer base.

J. Crew stands out in their styling. They make relatively standard designs look great in the way they put the merch. together. I've made a long time career out of styling so I understand its magic. The trouble is, a nice ruffle, silk, sleeveless blouse, worn differently, by a blond or brunette, is still the same blouse at the same dinner party.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Coco avant Chanel

If you hurry, you can still see the Coco Before Chanel movie that was released about a week ago. My friend, Nora, planned an "indulgent afternoon" which included seeing the Coco movie at the Paris Theater, located next door to Bergdorfs in The City (NY). We lunched at BG, Bergdorf's cafe. Central Park views, Hollywood meets Paris interiors (courtesy of Kelly Wearstler) were in keeping with our themes for the day–indulgent, fun and stylish.

The movie was beautifully shot, subtle and detailed. Of course, I've been thinking about Chanel designs since and how one might incorporate them into your wardrobe right now. I found this ad for White House, Black Market and I think is definitely is a doable Chanel solution.

Of course there is always the real thing... Thank you Karl. Minus the weird black and white eye makeup and Elizabethan collars (plus several thousand dollars) it might be a "timeless" addition to ones wardrobe...I'm not sure Coco would entirely embrace Karl's designs, however. According to the movie, she was a "no frills" gal.

Photos: White House/Black Market Advertisement, Harper's Bazaar, Runway Report, Special Issue

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pony up some Camel!

Spiegel at ShopStyle

If you have a camel coat, wear it! I'm liking the cropped ones they're showing this fall. A car coat length is always more wearable city or country, on board or on foot. Here's a few nice ones. Camel goes well with denim, white, brown and gold. Add a classic canvas rain hat, or a cream beret.

A paddock boot (with jeans) or high riding boot (with skinny leggings or jeans) also looks nice with a camel coat.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

America, The Beautiful...Interiors

MyStylist Travel Advisory

Where to go:

The "new" American Wing Of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC opened this past spring. See the period rooms, twenty in all, and the reconfigured Charles Engelhard Court. The Court has long been a favorite take-a-break spot for museum goers. Now, housing a sleek/simple Cafe and plenty of lovely places to sit and "appreciate sculpture," it's even chic.

What to do:

Take the new glass elevator to the third floor. The first room, with low beamed ceilings and a tiny curtained 4-poster bed, is just what you might expect from the 1680's. Work your way down to the first floor meandering through the next couple hundred years. End up in an early Frank Lloyd Wright Room, 1912.
Note: The new touch-screen kiosks are really cool.

What to wear:

It was expected to be a blustery (Whinnie The Pooh word) day. But I was too warm in a cashmere sweater. I have a favorite Paul Smith light-weight, fall, long-ish, blazer. The idea was to wear the sweater underneath the blazer, which provided no warmth. The museum is rather warm, I suspect they're economizing with regard to temperature regulation. Come winter, the museum might be a little cold. MyStylist says dress in layers. One more beneath my sweater, allowing me to peel off the sweater, would have helped (don't I know this already??).

Where to eat:

For sustenance, ease and convenience, The MET's Cafe is quite good. But check out all the dining options. Some, really give you a, "Aren't I cultured and fabulous," feeling.

Just one block from the museum on the southwest corner of Madison and 83rd street is Vosges Haut Chocolat. What better way to wind up your outing than with an exceptional piece of "designer" chocolate? "Travel the World through Chocolate" is the motto for this little jewel box of a store. (Well, the company actually.) One slender table provides an intimate place to indulge your taste buds in chocolate the likes of which you've probably never tasted before. Chocolate with curry or paprika, champagne, or chillies, ingredients culled from around the globe all served up in tiny truffles (or rather big bars!), yours for the tasting!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall Field Guide, Leather and Suede

Last fall I pulled leather and suede pants and skirts from several closets. They were put in the "save for a fashion rebound" pile, which ends up in a ben or trunk to be stored in never-land; attic or third floor closet, under Johnny's bed, above a bike rack in the garage... I'm sorry ladies, MyStylist says it's time to get them out again. I wouldn't have guessed so soon.

Field Specks:

A straight black leather pencil skirt, with a kick pleat, opaque tights to match, "reasonable" platform heals (don't do boots, we're not going for dominatrix–well maybe, a little bit.) The length, is up-to-you. I like just past the knee, but mid-thigh on the right gal can look great. Check out the ones that mix knit and leather. Be extremely conscious of the fit.

• The black leather pants they're showing are really, really tight and skinny. Congrats to the .5% of the population that can wear them. Frankly in pants, I prefer a brown suede. Ralph Lauren does a beautiful tan bootcut pant. If that's too low a rise, consider this one in dark brown (the styling in this shot is unfortunate, however).

As for styling with leather. Let your story be mostly about the leather. I would go with very simple cashmere sweaters or silk tops. Lace could work, but be mindful of whether or not you are channeling Stevie Nicks (um, you don't want to). Above all, feel tough and a little sexy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fashion Week, Fashion Hour

It's fashion week in New York City. On Wednesday I was within viewing distance of the Bryant Park tents. I've had my fair share of runway shows; under the tents, in showrooms, the Puck Building even West-side parking lots. It's fun to partake in the hoopla. I remember once seeing a New York Public Library security guard refusing Anna Wintour access to a show. I was secretly pleased. Finally, someone next to me said, "You really ought to let her in, she's really important." I think Wintour was sort of embarrassed, she smiled sheepishly. The guard dropped the velvet rope, glowering at us all.

If you can't "do" the shows, let me recommend the ICP, International Center of Photography. Right now there is a stunningly curated Richard Avedon show that I would cautiously venture to say, is better fashion then anything you'll see under the tents. After quickly calculating that we'd still be able to make the 6pm train home, my daughter and I ducked in and were instantly caught up in a fashion-glamour moment (hour, really) of our very own making. The exhibit, Avendon Fashion 1944-2000 features some of his most famous and obscure fashion photos. Sadly, the show closes this Sunday, but there is a catalog/book, although that is never quite the same, is it?

Located on 6th and 43rd street, the ICP is a clean and convenient space, a very manageable museum, and I've chastised myself and my photographer husband for not being members! Our new years resolution, yes it is new years, we have kids, is to join!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday in the park, The High Line,

MyStylist–Travel Advisory

Where to go:
The High Line in New York City is a "repossessed" railway. Once above ground freight trains used the line to transport meat, agricultural goods and mail up and down the Lower West Side. Now, reinvented by a group of caring citizens, The High Line is a park oasis, a cultural groove way.

What to do:
Gaze, talk, lounge and stroll. Appreciate design. Love Manhattan.

What to bring:
1) Kids and friends of all ages. Truly, it is a confined above ground park space so kids can run. Taking a paramour would be fine too! 2) Your camera, to capture some extraordinary vantage points of urban loveliness. 3) Big reflective sunglasses, so you can check out the celebrities you'll see and still look like you don't care that you saw them. 4) On-line parking coupon

What to wear:
Comfortable shoes (No sneakers. Why, because I hate them.) My girlfriend had some black patin ballet flats with a little perforated wing tip design across the toe, cute. You're elevated, so wear an extra layer–soft sweater, wrap or urban sweatshirt. Also, New Yorkers do in fact wear colors, just not too many patterns. The High Line itself inspires subtle designs and natural fabrics. Braking this guideline, however, my son wore a Volcom sweatshirt that is anything but subtle.

Where to eat:
We grabbed a take-out Pastis breakfast, lunched at The Standard Grill.

Now that's a cool half-day in The City.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

Every pedicure should come with wine.

At the GrapeSeed Spa, The Gals and I were treated to the soak, scrub and message of a traditional pedicure, but with wine and the surrounding deluxe spa and resort that is part of South Coast's Winery, we were transported, giddy really, with t
hat you're here now, pinch yourself feeling.

Post pedi, we hustled over via complimentary golf cart to dive into a wine tour that made me feel like I should go to the back of the class. If we had
been given a test
on wine making after the tour, I would have failed, sadly I think Brigitte would have too, but we would have copied off Jody who spent several years working in the spirits industry. What are friends for?

Our guide was in a hurry, she spoke too fast and much of the information was lost on me. However, she redeemed herself with the tasting that followed the actual tour. We sat down, alfresco, to a lovely table set with cheese plate and several wine glasses. Overlooking the vineyards, the scene fulfilled our romantic fantasies of a Southern California wine dynasty. Fantasy example: Hopping on the back of a Steve McQueen dude's dirt bike for a quick "tour" of the "grapes," hair blowing, the smell of fertile soil... I'm getting away from
myself. In reality, we were sitting with a very sweet gay couple.

The take-away from the tasting was twofold. 1) South Coast Winery is on the map as a premier winemaker in California. They have won, for the last two years, Southern California's Winery Of The Year. 2) The wines, to our taste buds, were outstanding! And we learned just how to taste them, what they would be good paired with, and why we should come back to this winery again and again.

• To taste: See, swirl, smell and savior
- Once it's poured, tilt the glass, hold it up and look at the color
- Swirl the glass. This allows air to "open up" the taste
- Smell, "Go ahead stick your nose right down in the glass."
- Savior, "Suck it in, swish it in your mouth and swallow."

• Why come back: Too many reasons to name here, but below are a few...
- The Villas amongst the grapes is just dreamy.
- "The Club" has activities and deals to take advantage of in person or
from a distance.
- In September and October, you can tap into your inner earth mama and actually pick grapes.
- The GrapeSeed Spa (mentioned above)–luxuriate.
- The Vineyard Rose restaurant. Savior wine and food at this mediterranean restaurant.
You'll appreciate the Tuscan ambiance. Have the antipasti, for sure!
- Romance, with The Gals, well and good, but this place screams for a romantic getaway.

Top Left; GrapeSeed Spa outdoor lounge
Middle Left; Us, tasting
Lower Right; Antipasti Plate, The Vineyard Rose

Above Photos, Brigitte Lehnert of Flow Modern Design

Photo Below, Courtesy of Temecula CVB,

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mud Sligging

Slathering mud on your girlfriend's back truly brings a whole new meaning to, "we're very close." Can you happily grab globs of red mud, spread it all over yourself and your friend, bake in the sun until your skin resembles cracked clay and then vigorously slough it off (each other), resulting in a dipped-in-brown-sugar look, all while discussing the merits of raising children? One friend, re-entering single parenthood shared the challenges of growing two boys, while the other discussed coming to terms with her childlessness. I couldn't tell if the other women slinging clay were treading in such muddy waters, but that is what makes our friendship close, extraordinary really. If you're like us, Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa is a great place to rest, relax, and talk.

We were just starting our weekend getaway. We stopped at Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa, situated west and south of the Santa Ana Mountains in Corona, CA before proceeding to Temecula. There is a skill set, or strategy involved in navigating a spa as big as Glen Ivy and my friend, Jody, was way ahead of Brigitte and I on the learning curve. Like some sort of spa shark she staked a claim to a secluded, shady, arched-way veranda. We threw our stuff down marking our territory and headed for The Red Clay Mud Bath. Brigitte suppressed her spartan German cleanliness and Jody, ever the authoritarian, schooled us on the benefits and techniques of mud bathing. It was really fun.

The three of us opted for a traditional swedish massage, fabulous, but Glen Ivy offers all sorts of rub and scrub options; Temescal Stone Therapy, Eucalyptus Body Wrap, Acorn Honey Almond Body Polishing to name a few.
After lunch (we chose salads and, well, ...nachos) we returned to our home-base lounge area and appropriately, lounged. Nearby was a small wading pool, one of 19 different pool at Glen Ivy.
We took a pass on the Mineral Baths, too crowded, although couples seemed to be enjoying them. Suana Court and The Grotto was also a walk by. We see each other just once a year, so our treatments were more for the spirit than the body.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Temecula Creek Inn

Brunch is a funny word. Technically it means a combo of lunch and breakfast, but often it is a big, bountiful, stuff yourself silly, mid-morning meal. That’s just what The Gals and I did at the Temecula Creek Inn. Overlooking a sprawling 27 hole golf course we grazed; made to order omelets, salmon in a puff pastry, seared tuna with the fixings–seaweed salad, wasabi and ginger, artisanal cheeses, eggs benedict... I’m not even scratching the surface! As for drinks, we needed caffeine, but the brunch sported a Bloody Mary bar,
Champaign and Mimosas.

The golfers in my family, Mom, Dad and brother, Michael, say Temecula Creek Inn is the golfing venue in Temecula. Mom and Dad have golfed throughout the world and they had nice things to say about the course in comparison to some others in Southern California. Michael likes a nice place and Temecula “rated” for him. Believe me, that’s saying a lot.

Us Gals aren’t golfers, but we agreed that we should take it up as we sat down with plate number TWO. That

morning eating seemed to be our sport of choice!

Friday Night Lights at Temecula Creek Inn starts at 5:30pm with nine holes of golf followed by an upscale buffet dinner. Then try your swing at an additional three

holes of glow in the dark golf ($85.00). This sounds like a blast for a girlfriend getaway, as does some of their other events and packages.

We liked the understated ranch-like feel of the Inn. Villas overlooking the course seamlessly blended with the

greens. Nice, because all too often the architecture surrounding a course can appear out-of-place, like Tiger Woods jumping horses.