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#overdressed4life

The gold and green Hermès bag that Ms. Romanek inherited from her grandmother. Photo: Michael P.H. Clifford.

I inherited this Hermès bag from my grandmother when she passed away 19 years ago. Before COVID, I circled the bag in my closet for years. But then, during the pandemic, I was like ‘You know what? I want to feel good, and this is bringing me joy.’ Now I wear it every day, with an A-line skirt or a sweater set or a nice pair of jeans. When I do, it makes me think about my grandmother and smile. I know this sounds crazy, but it gives me a little bit of support.

Brigette Romanek – Interior designer.

This quote is from Harper’s Bazaar magazine, November 2022.

I really like this story! How lovely that Ms. Romanek uses her grandmother’s handbag every day and that she finds comfort in it.

During the pandemic, I also pulled out some of my tucked-away treasures. I started wearing pearls every day, even if I was just staying home. I have a custom-made tweed coat that I used to wear only for dressy occasions, but now I slip it on for our winter strolls in the neighborhood. Why not? Life is too short not to wear and use our nice things.

Winners of the California MIWW Left to Right: In the adults category – Jennifer Serr; Juniors – Olivia Frenette; Pre-Teen – Kevin Vlach; Seniors – Rebekah Kasperson.

Make It With Wool is a state and national fashion design and sewing or knitting competition sponsored by The American Sheep Industry. Founded in 1947, the competition website says it seeks to “promote the beauty and versatility of wool fabrics, fibers, and yarns.” MIWW is open to pre-teens through adults and all fabric and yarn used must be at least 60 percent wool. Three judges look for excellence in presentation and appearance, construction, and marketability.

The California Make It With Wool (MIWW) competition and fashion show was held on November 12th in Orinda. The four winners are now eligible for the national MIWW contest to be held in Texas in January, 2023.

I attended the fashion show in Orinda and was pleased to see such talent and interest in sewing and knitting. Many of the young contestants learned to sew in 4H. I noticed a vintage feel to some of the entries. Jennifer Serr, winner in the adult category, used a 1930s suit pattern (see photo above).

Calling all those who sew and/or knit! Why not show off your talent and skills next year? Check out the MIWW website for more information and contacts.

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2022 California Make It With Wool Contest.

Laila Gohar looking stylish in the kitchen. Photo: Nacho Alegre.

When I work, I like to wear menswear shirts with a long bistro-style apron that ties around my body.

Laila Gohar – Egyptian born chef, artist, and designer.

Ms. Gohar has a masters degree in Media Studies from Parson’s School of Design in New York. While in school she worked at a French bistro where she learned to “curate” events. Now she prepares food for special pop-up events – clients include Tiffany & Co and Comme des Garsons. Her website says that she “uses food as an artistic medium and a tool for communication.” How interesting!

I’m a big fan of aprons. For one thing I like to keep my clothes free of kitchen spits and splatters. But I also like an added touch of style while cooking.

I have a few aprons and each one means something to me. One I’ve had since I was around 12-years-old. It was a gift from my stepmother – a souvenir she picked up in Europe. I kept it but didn’t wear it until recently. Another was a gift from my mother a few years ago. It’s made of fine cotton and she bought it from a local shop that specializes in French imports of linens, dishware, and soap among other goodies. (Sadly that shop recently closed.)

Helping Hands Apron from Gohar World.

How cool that Ms. Gohar has created a unique look for herself that is both stylish and practical. (I notice she’s sporting a brooch on her apron pictured above.) She and her sister, Nadia, also an artist, have applied their whimsy to a line of tableware and linens. One of their apron designs is called Helping Hands Apron and features a pair of lace hands dangling from the tie.

Do you have a cook on your holiday gift list? How about giving them a new apron?

Thankfulness and appreciation are always in fashion.

This year I am thankful of course for family and friends, good health, and time (the ultimate luxury). I’m thankful for the opportunities that come my way and for the gift of giving to others.

I’m thankful for this photo of the last Thanksgiving my mother and I spent together in 2019. The following years we couldn’t share any holiday meal because of COVID. I am thankful that I had my mother in my life for as long as I did.

I am thankful for my interest in fashion and style. Something I got from my mother, fashion and style are what sustain me, what inspire me, where I go when life gets to be too much. We all need a place like that.

Wishing ODFL readers a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Catherine Blair. Photo: Judy Rogac for Harper’s Bazaar.

Maybe the (Catholic-school) uniform that I complained about was a good idea in that it showed that it’s not awful to wear the same thing. And I often think when I see somebody who’s not terribly well-dressed but has tons of clothes, if she had just restricted her shopping a bit.

Catherine “Deeda” Blair – NY society doyenne, medical philanthropist, and mental-health and brain research advocate.

This quote is from an interview with Ms. Blair in Harper’s Bazaar, September 2022. Her first book, Deeda Blair: Food, Flowers, and Fantasy (Rizzoli International Publications) is just out.

It’s funny to think that people who are “not terribly well-dressed” have a lot of clothes, but it’s true. Instead of piles of fast fashion, just a few quality classics would be so much better for the environment as well as one’s bank account.

Uniforms can help with that. What I mean is a personal uniform – a go-to look that is comfortable and makes the wearer feel confident. For example, I wear skirts and various tops. The tops depend on the weather and what I’m doing. I might wear a blouse if I’m working or a t-shirt if I’m running errands. It was my mom who inspired my look. When I was growing up, she wore skirts and button down shirts for her daily uniform. She had maybe four skirts (wool tweeds and cotton pleats) and half a dozen shirts in white. She layered with sweaters as do I. For me skirts are easy and always looks stylish, particularly with an added hat, scarf, and some eye-catching jewelry.

I must confess that I have quite a few skirts in cotton for spring/summer and in wool for autumn/winter. But I do wear them!

How about you? Do you have a personal uniform? Please share.

T-shirt and jeans from the Jane Birkin collection for A.P.C.

It’s a whole art to be invisible. To be noticed for what you actually do or say or write and not for your appearance.

Jean Touitou – Creative director and founder of the French fashion brand, A.P.C.

This season Mr. Touitou has collaborated with actress and fashion icon, Jane Birkin on a new line of fashion unisex basics. Inspired by what has become Ms. Birkin’s daily uniform – jeans, t-shirts, men’s shirts, sweaters, sneakers, and a straw bag (not the Hermes Birkin Bag?). The new line isn’t all that interesting until you get to the details. Such as the t-shirt necklines have a little lower scoop so it drapes just off the shoulder and the sneakers are lined with faux sheepskin. The jeans are 100% Japanese cotton (no spandex!!).

Ms. Birkin herself has said that what she wears is “nice but boring.” I think her style speaks to the Touitou quote above – it’s simple and doesn’t stand out and yet there’s thought behind it. Ms. Birkin is perhaps “invisible,” but she’s still put together and she’s developed her own style. There’s nothing haphazard about her look and in that, I would say, she’s actually quite visible.

I would take these quality basics and accessorize them with a cashmere pullover sweater, a string of pearls, a hat, and a vintage handbag.

Autumn Attire

Autumn is my favorite season – for the colors in nature, the shift in the sun, cool mornings, shorter days, and of course the fashions! I like sweaters, wool skirts, scarves, hats, and boots. I like to layer. I like to wear autumn colors: green, golden yellow, brown, black, burgundy.

Leafing though the September 2019 issue of Victoria magazine (the British issue) I came upon a classic look perfect for autumn in any year.

A suede skirt by Ralph Lauren is paired with a cotton broadcloth blouse and a Faire Isle sweater. I really like the small crossbody bag and the grey hat by Anthropologie adds pizazz.

A lovely ensemble just right for a stroll along a wooded path on an chilly autumn afternoon.

Photo by EVG Kowalievska on Pexels.com

There was a time when the iron was woven into the rumpled fabric of family life. This humble appliance would be brought out regularly – along with the ceremoniously popping into position of the ironing board – to smooth a church dress, crease a pair of work trousers or unwrinkle fancy cloth napkins. Now my iron is hidden on a high shelf in my laundry room. I no longer own an ironing board. While sales of irons are on the decline, garment steamers have picked up steam.

Christine Fellingham – a former editor at Glamour magazine.

Hold on a minute! The “humble” iron is a very important tool for anyone who sews, and FYI, I use cloth napkins, which means I’m ironing those too. I have several irons, one ironing board and I use them, depending how much sewing I’m doing, at least twice a month. Seamstresses use irons to press out wrinkles in fabric before cutting and sewing; crease seams; apply fusible interfacing, and a host of other things.

My textiles instructor in the Fashion Department at San Francisco City College once mentioned that most of her young students have no idea how to use an iron. Well, they quickly learn! Do you watch Project Runway? Ever noticed the designers are constantly running to the ironing board?

Irons can do what garment steamers cannot, although, steamers are great for quickly getting out wrinkles right before you run out the door. But the iron, just like the sewing machine, is a seamstress’ buddy.

Let’s have some respect for the humble iron.

Carved jet bracelets from the mid-1800s. Image from Jet Jewelry and Ornaments, by Helen Muller (Shire Publications). How chic it would be today to where two or three of these at a time.

I have been collecting jet jewelry for decades. I learned about it through my mother who was an antique jewelry dealer. I’m attracted to the feel of polished jet and I appreciate its long history. I have beads, several brooches, a bracelet, and a fabulous carved jet ring. It’s getting harder and harder to find now, even in the UK.

Jet is a type of coal, a fossilized wood of an ancient tree that covered the earth in the Jurassic period (about 180 million years ago). Jet was used as a jewel and talisman by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Later in England and Europe, it was used in religious jewelry. In America, jet was found in Utah and Colorado and used by the Pueblo people in their jewelry.

Jet is black, lightweight, and although smooth, it has a bit of a tacky feel. Polished it reminds me of patent leather.

It was in Victorian England that jet became associated with mourning. Prince Albert died in 1861, after which Queen Victoria went into a deep and long period of mourning. She wore nothing but black, including jewelry. And with that, jet jewelry was all the rage.

Part of my collection of jet jewelry.

When my mother died in April, I searched my mind for a way to reflect my grief. In our modern world, there is no way to indicate one is in mourning. There used to be traditions – only black clothing for the first year, then mauve in the second year. Everyone wore black to funerals. Now no one does. A black band around the arm was an indication of mourning.

(I did notice that after Queen Elizabeth’s recent death, broadcasters in the UK and of course the royal family immediately started wearing black and some British citizens sported black bands.)

I thought about jet and how it had once been more than just lovely pieces of jewelry. Jet was used as a symbol. I pulled out my collection, chose a brooch and pinned it on to my dress. Every day since, I wear this jet brooch on my right shoulder as a reminder that I have lost someone important to me. No one knows what it means, but I do. The practice of pinning it on every morning is part of my grieving process and I find it comforting. I plan to wear it every day up until the first anniversary of my mother’s death.

I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color.

Wednesday Addams, fictional character from The Addams Family.

Happy Spooks Day!!