Saturday, 7 November 2009

Well, it’s been a long time since my last entry, and for good reason. I’ve been selling one house and moving into another, which as we all know is one of the three most stressful things one can experience. I confirm.

On the “amazed” side is the fact I sold my house in precisely 4 weeks from signing the contract to completion, and moved out in 2 (of those 4). Unbelievable. That’s what happens when you sell to a banker. Yet another of their extraordinary benefits would seem to be pushing their loan application through in a couple of days.

On the “I don’t believe it” side (though would be better titled “should’ve known better”) my ex breaking into the house and stealing radiators, saying he’d clear the house, then leaving it full of stuff, and generally behaving very badly; the bank sending me into a total panic by taking €11000 more than they should have in penalty charges, later to be admitted as a mistake and reimbursed. But it’s all done and dusted now and the page is turned. A serene and tranquil life stretches out ahead of me now, oh bliss.

It’s interesting moving from 280 square meters to 70. It involved very therapeutic and very radical throwing out, which wasn’t anywhere near as painful as I had feared, in fact quite the opposite; I was quite amazed at all the junk that I’d been dragging around with me all this time, for reasons I couldn’t begin to explain or even fathom. Key trinkets, that I loved, but could not find room for became presents for appreciative friends. Various bits of furniture were despatched to new homes, and a lot went to Emmaus (bit like Oxfam), in particular a huge chunk of my wardrobe, which has gone from 5 linear meters to 1! Now that IS radical! Of course, now I’m constantly looking for an article of clothing that I realise that I’ve given away.

In my new compact apartment, instead of having to waste time walking through a huge house and climb the stairs, I can now call my kids to dinner without even raising my voice. I get to hear them giggling together in sibling collusion, something I missed when I was a floor below them and which warms my heart. Everything takes much less time … setting the table for dinner with only 1 metre between the cutlery drawer and dinner table, instead of 4. Sounds not much but I’m telling you, all those extra seconds saved are going on much more interesting projects! I’ve only been here a couple of weeks, but I feel more at home here than I think I ever have anywhere. It looks just how I want it, no style compromises with anyone, and I am in control of my own domain. Peace at last.

Friday, 18 September 2009

To speedo or not to speedo

Well now I've seen it all. A British waterpark has banned Speedos, and is even considering introducing mandatory bikini waxing for men, in a bid to "prevent unsightly hair being on display". What is it with the Anglo-Saxons and bodies? For goodness sake, what a bunch of prudes. It's the same over the Atlantic where, when I was there last week, I was taken aback to find huge billboard adverts proclaiming the sale of bras that definitely won't show your nipples. Why stop there? Why not sell bras that flatten your chest completely so we all look like girls (well, I'm already there) and trusses to hide mens bits too? What is going on? Are we all to be turned into Ken & Barbie, completely sexless?

In our local swimming pool (in France) men are ONLY allowed to wear Speedo type trunks, and those horrendous bermuda short, or rather long, things are banned, as guys have been coming in swimming in their day wear. And they all, for the most part, look very nice in them, thank you very much (and to the comments about the beer guts etc, well they look revolting whatever they're wearing, clothed or unclothed). Will we ban athletes and swimmers from wearing their most revealing kit? If we do, then I for one will stop watching ... it's a real treat to see the human body at its most magnificent. And as for missing out on Daniel Craig wearing his, well don't even start me off on that one ....

PS. Bring back cod pieces, that's what I say; mind you, they'd just be padding those out too.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Holiday Thoughts

I had a week's holiday last week, helping my best friend get through a landmark birthday. She lives in Massachusetts, so it was an American Week. The more memorable moments: her Bassett hound dribbling brown dribble all over my white linen skirt, and then white dribble all over my black linen skirt; drinking champagne on Plymouth beach, looking across the Atlantic to where it all started, collecting souvenir stones and shells; going to see Julie & Julia; being ladies that lunch (I have 3 extra kilos to prove it); receiving the most divine Marc Jacobs ring for my birthday; snoozing through "Duplicity" due to a sauvignon blanc and champagne haze (I didn't miss anything, VERY disappointing film).
It does have to be said, however, that the week was severely stylishly challenged. As you know, I refuse the "if you can't beat them, join them" philosophy, especially when it's just for one week, so made a point of NOT EVEN PACKING my jeans (tho' had to borrow my friend's after said Bassett slobbered all over white linen skirt), but I do empathise with her cries for help on the style front. Okay, she lives in the (smart) country, definitely NOT urban, but all I saw were sweat shorts, sweat shirts, sweat T-s (and lots of sweat with all that jogging and power walking), and you do begin very quickly to feel like you've just landed from outer space. We (her husband, two lovely daughters, she and I) completely dressed up for dinner on The Day, and went to a smart and chic restaurant, but were surrounded by people who looked like they'd just left the gym. Such a shame. Is style only reserved for the city? But we made all heads turn and looked FAB and felt even better.
So, back in sunny southern France, still bolt awake at 2am from jet lag, my break already seems weeks ago. Piles of pancakes for breakfast, tear-inducing giggling fits, non-French wine (oh bliss), all that will have to be put on hold for my next visit.

PS. Did I rant about being a tall person in economy class? €50 to get an exit seat? I DON'T THINK SO. I was lucky on this trip and managed to charm the ground staff, but really. It's an outrage.

Friday, 28 August 2009


Today's subject came to me today while chatting with a client in the shop: my mission is to spread some some elegance around the world. We live in an era of "dressing down". The comment I must hear the most frequently is "oh I just don't have the occasion to wear that". Why do we have to have an "occasion" to wear something lovely and elegant, to make us stand out and look beautiful? We've all known that feeling of taking time and care over how we dress, make up, perfume ourselves, for some special event like a party or wedding. Why would we not want to feel like that everyday? My best friend recently lamented the fact that when she turned up at her local wine bar in a simple black dress and heels, the comments were "ooh, you're all dressed up", making her feel overdressed and slightly ridiculous. I told her she had to translate this into "Wow, you look beautiful". And as I said it, I realised how true that is. People have a hard time saying "you look beautiful/lovely". Too personal and intimate. So instead they make a general comment on the fact that you look different to them, in their dressed-down-I-don't-care-about-how-I-look clothes, when in fact you've really brought some glamour into the room, enough to bring out a disguised compliment. How fab is that? How wonderful to brighten up someone's life by looking good. It's not just the role of celebrities or beautiful people, we can all do it. And it's like anything, the more often you do it, the easier it gets. It's also contagious, which is the best bit; watch how your friends take your lead and smarten up. Let's think elegant (and I'm not just talking clothes either). I'm not suggesting we should all be another Audrey, that's a pretty tough call, but just spending a couple of extra minutes a day to think about what to wear can make all the difference. Bring some beauty into the world on a daily basis. And when you see someone who looks lovely, say it, say "wow, you look wonderful". Watch their face light up.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Bra Straps

I've always thought a blog was so 'nombrilist' as the French say so well (nombril = bellybutton, ie inwardly focused) but having been enchanted by The Sartorialist, being a bit of ranter(ess) and often a witness of the most interesting scenarios in my shop I thought I'd put some of it down here, if for nothing more than my own bit of personal therapy. "Get it out and let it go".

So, today, I am going to start with my Summer 2009 rant: bra straps. What is it with the wrestler back t shirts (made for athletic, well formed, even, dare I say it, small boobed women) worn by big boobed, less well formed women with the obligatory bra underneath? All the beauty and sexiness of the wrestler back cut is completely lost in a mish-mash of bra straps, varying from matching colour of t-shirt to contrast to the worst of all, 'transparent' straps. It looks awful, and making the excuse that it's the 'fashion' or 'everyone else is wearing it' is just not acceptable. Fashion should be selective, and doing what everyone else does is a bad excuse for laziness. For goodness sake, there's enough choice around to be able to find a t-shirt that suits your body shape; make an effort.