Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Decision, Decisions, Decisions. . .

Gorgeous. Just messy, nonchalant, dare one say "young" enough to make a woman reconsider the grey question.
         We've discussed the subject several times, but I don't know about you, I think it can always be revisited to see if we've evolved, radically changed or decided we've been right all along. When it comes to a woman's hair, we know instinctively that if we don't get it right, we don't feel quite right.

This one''s for you Lisa. xo
          But then comes the inevitable question: What's right for me?

          Professionals can help and I think it behooves us to consult the best ones we can find and afford, but still. . . it's ultimately how we feel when we look in the mirror and see that frame around our faces, in the first moments of the morning and again after we've applied our makeup.

These styles could change anyone's opinion about how long is too long.
          I have always been "against" (where do I get the right?) long, long hair on women of a certain age. Then, I see women of a certain age with ultra long hair and I think: "You look gorgeous!"

          In the interviews for my book stylists told me that somewhere around 45 to 50, about 80 percent of their clients ask for shorter hair. That does not mean short, they are asking that it not break at the shoulders. That's basically my request -- still long enough for a pony tail while I work or a chignon if I feel so inclined and of course down and swingy.

More and more possibilities.
          Now the grey conundrum, after interviewing the rock stars of colorists in Paris who actually count actresses and rock stars among their clients, I came away with a couple of important opinions:

  1.  "It takes guts (actually he said "balls" but I umm translated it to "guts" for propriety) to go grey," Christophe Robin said.
  2. "I think grey hair is beautiful and I love taking women completely grey and then helping them keep it healthy," Rodolphe said.
A "before" and "after" that I'm assuming addresses the "modern" edict.
          On one point they both agree: The style should be "modern."

Emmylou Harris
Ali MacGraw -- her hair is in either a chignon or a French twist.

Daphne Guinness.
Glenn Close.
Dame Helen Mirren.
          Tomorrow I'll show you some of my favorite cuts irrespective of color and a few outstanding products to make hair shine and, one hopes, behave.  Until then, do go here for an interesting makeover story on fresh ways to style grey locks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Investment Hairstyles

Isn't her hair sublime?
          What a great idea you have given me: Investment hairstyles. I'm sort of operating on "I know them when I see them," but I'll try to explain. . .

          The Requirements:

Françoise Hardy.
Jamie Lee Curtis.

  • Nothing fussy which equals time and energy every morning. Boring and not at all chic.
  • Hair moves naturally, falls into place.
  • It shines with good health. This is easily accomplished with the right products including a deep moisturising mask twice a month.
  • You do not have to wash it every day (ask any Frenchwoman, she doesn't).
  • It's essential to find the cut that is you. The one that flatters your face, makes you feel beautiful and makes your life easier.
  • As for color, there is probably nothing more personal than that decision. I can't weigh-in on that one. Only you can determine the time, budget and upkeep frequency you're willing to devote to that detail. Or, maybe you've decided to go au natural, even grey or white. Good for you.
Charlotte Rampling though it doesn't look like her.
          All the above being said, the trick is to find the hairstylist who will listen to you. I've actually walked up to women on the street -- in Paris, which takes nerve -- and asked women where they got their color or cut. After years of being moderately happy with my ballayage, I finally found a woman near us who listens to me and gives me the light colors I love. (I was told by one of France's most famous colourists when I interviewed him for my book that my hair was too light.  I don't care.)

         I have my hair cut in Paris. 

Lauren Hutton.
Isabella Rossellin

Judi Dench
Juliette Binoche.

Ines de la Fressange.
          What do you think?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Back In Business. . .

Happy Un-Birthday to me.
          We live in the country outside Paris. This you know. Consequently -- apparently -- it's "normal" (explain me that as My-Reason-For-Living-In-France would say) that there are occasional problems with Internet service.

         That's what happened to me for two days and then on-and-off until yesterday. It appears all is well now. There is no explanation that can be attributed to the weather. It is absolutely glorious. Outdoor cafes are overflowing. Everyone is smiling. Some people are even swimming in the Atlantic.

         As promised, I want to tell you about last Wednesday, slide on down to the post below please.  You cannot believe how lucky I am. I met two absolutely gorgeous, chic women. One was wearing head-to-toe navy blue -- three-quarter redingote jacket and leggings with an elegant scarf of many colors; the other in burgundy: blouse and cardigan teamed with understated tweedy slim pants and leopard ballerinas. Both had "investment" haircuts which I define as not only absolutely stunning specifically for them, but also simple, ageless, sleek. 

         But, enough about facades. They were sparkling with intelligence, enthusiasm, wit and generosity. I'm hoping this is the beginning of a long friendship. 

Note extraordinarily comfortable seating.
         We had lunch in the Primo Piano restaurant in the Bon Marché department store where the view is charming and thankfully the seats are extremely comfortable. I mention the seating because we were at table for more than five hours. Cliche or not, time does fly when you're having fun.

         As it turned out we did no shopping together, but I had prepared my mission. I presented them with a list of some of my favorite places in Paris and then explained why. I included everything from the world's greatest pharmacy to antique and estate jewelry to special accessories and "must haves" for the home. Oh, yes there were also my special leather goods places, perfume, vintage, buttons and bows . . .plus a list of my can't-live-without products. So much fun.

A toast to the wonders of serendipity.
        If this is what it's like to be a cadeau d'anniversaire for someone, I'm the one who got the best gift.

        So, I thank you both, A. & J., and here's to the magic of new friends.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Off to Paris on An Adventure

One of my favorite places on rue Saint-Honoré for leather goods including gloves, change purses, wallets, credit card cases, passport envelopes, totes and terrific bags. For those of us who do not like designer sacs -- except for Chanel and Hermes of course -- this is a great place to find a perfect purse. Best of all the prices are reasonable.

     Today I am about to embark on a "first."  I am a birthday present(!)

           In a couple of hours I will meet two stunning women, I've seen their pictures, one of whom gave the other a day of shopping with me in Paris. We're having lunch at the top of the Bon Marché where the food is good and the view charming. My-Reason-For-Living-In-France told me I should have chosen something more glamorous. Now I'm worried that they'll be disappointed.

The spectacular view from the terrace of the Cafe Marly, where we're not having lunch. Maybe they can go there without me or maybe we could have tea later in the day. 
           Maybe I should have chosen the Cafe Marly where we could have looked out on the I.M.Pei pyramids. It's oh, so "in" or maybe the Dali restaurant in the Hôtel Meurice. . .

La Grand Epicerie de Paris.
           After lunch we can cross the street and pop into La Grand Epicerie de Paris, an irresistible place for all sorts of exotic foody gift ideas.  Then we'll stroll around the area.

We should go to Dary's to see what's on offer.  Click here to understand why I love this place filled with extraordinary antique and period jewels.
          Because my favorite places are scattered in different arrondissements in the city, I've prepared a list with addresses for them to explore on another day.

          Of course I'll report back in this space. I must say I'm excited and flattered.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

This Month's Assignment

          As many of you know, I belong to an international group of brilliant bloggers, By Invitation Only (BIO) and every month we decide on a topic to explore. When you click here, you will be taken to Marsha, who founded the group, and her sumptuous blog, Splenderosa.  From there you will be directed to everyone else participating in the exercise.

         It's always so much fun because each of us approaches the subject from her own special point of view.  This time out we will be talking about the one item we cannot live without this fall.

          Leave it to me to cheat. But I can't help it. I reach for two accessories I always wear them together,  in my mind they are inseparable.  There, I've justified my fudging of the rules. 

Why the scarf looks washed out after all the editing and fine tuning I thought I did,  I will never know.  In real life the colors are sharply defined. (Maybe I didn't save something I should have. Anything's possible.)
          One is a huge cotton scarf in all my colors: navy, black, French blue, light blue, mauve -- they all sort of melt into one another.  This I partner with my French blue ballerinas.

          It is not an exaggeration to say I have been wearing them almost every day for two months. Neither accessory is new.  I've had the scarf two or three years and the shoes more than a year. You know how it is though, whether by serendipity or a true understanding of one's style, some pieces of clothing or items of adornment are like a siren song. We keep going back to them. We cannot resist.

The shoes that never leave the house without the scarf.  They're French Sole and unbelievably comfortable.
          While on the subject of fall, I wrote a piece for the extraordinary site Women's Voices for Change. It's all about why I love Paris in autumn.

          I didn't realize it would coincide with today's BIO post. Since I'm in the "business" of making recommendations, please let me suggest that you bookmark the site. It's for us. It's intelligent, sophisticated, edifying and fun. When you see who founded the site and their credentials you'll understand what I mean.      

Monday, October 13, 2014

News & Views

Aston Martin "sneakers" from the bespoke house of John Lobb.
          Yesterday friends invited us for lunch in one of our favorite country restaurants. They are a couple of a certain age with a certain affection for fashion and the means to express themselves in said medium without looking at the consequent price tags.

          Case in point: his shoes. At first I thought they were "amusing" sneakers, but one hesitates to call a pair of John Lobb shoes from its Aston Martin Winner collection, "sneakers" even though the company does. They ring in at 625 Euros. I checked. Arnaud's were in British racing green with red soles and laces.
Look carefully and you'll see she is covered in goats.
          One of my favorite fall diversions is perusing the Eric Bompard fall/winter cashmere collection. I have no idea whether I will add something new to my collection, but I thought I would show you a few pieces that appeal to me either because they are pretty or simply different like the troop of goats on the pullover.
So, so pretty don't you think?
        I find the light blue coat with the matching turtleneck absolutely lovely and tempting.

         The V-neck has a perfect fit. I know this from past experience. The one above comes in 38 (!) colors and is on markdown from 155 Euros to 100 Euros.

         You'll note that although I haven't broken up these news bites with headlines for easier reading, I haven't applied the rule of transition sentences either.  I'm counting on pictures to help smooth the way.

She seems to have decided to place an order with the Cook Angels
         The latest snobbism we're told is Cook Angels, meals in "kits" delivered right to the door but a la Française which is to say all the fresh ingredients are ready to prepare. Vegetables are peeled and diced, or whatever the recipe requires. In other words, they are ready to prepare, but not quite ready to eat. The idea, which one must admit is culturally fascinating, is fine, perhaps complicated cuisine made easy (or easier) with step-by-step recipes included.

         The menu can include an entrée, plat, fromage and dessert.

Are those hostesses winking?  Now you know why.
         If calling upon Cook Angels is for a dinner party, all the hostess needs to say is "merci" when the compliments begin because she really did prepare the meal.

        The service also offers menus for children.    

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Oh, do I love this confiture (jam). It's "allegée" which, in this case, means 30 percent less sugar.
          For years now doctors, psychologists, nutritionists, dieticians, probably even Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil having been harping on "mindfulness". In other words, everything we do we should think about it, savour it even.

          Now, as you know, and I've done some harping myself in this regard, the French eat mindfully (most of the time).  Over time I too have tried to eat all of my meals at table with no other distraction other than conversation. Except I didn't do that this morning.

         Since my rehab and my regime that started in June, breakfast has become one of my great pleasures. I look forward to sitting down at the dining room table, with silver, linen napkin, the whole la-dee-da. But what I love most is what I eat. And really, I've learned to throughly enjoy my petit dejeuner.
These are sooooo good.
         Every morning for going on four months now, I eat five "fibre+" biscuits, 34 calories each, five equal a breakfast serving; two of those restaurant-like pats of butter, demi-sel, which equal about 18 grams of butter (I eat butter because I love it and rationalize that it's also good for my skin and only first thing in the morning); a plum or another seasonal fruit; lovely strong coffee with skim milk (I've tried, but I just can't drink black coffee in the morning); and my latest discovery, reduced sugar -- by 30 percent -- apricot, and sometimes raspberry, jam on the fifth biscuit.  The last biscuit is a little wrap-up treat, but I have to be careful because I always want to dip a spoon into the jar and have more.

My mini butter pats which help me know exactly how much I'm spreading on my biscuits.
         Exceptionally, as the French would say, I prepared my breakfast mindfully today and then set my laptop down on the table to see what was going on in my mailbox and the world in general. My-Reason-For-Living-In-France had had his petit dejeuner and was off someplace (he is often a very early riser) so that left conversation up to Charlotte and me which tends to be quite one-sided.

This one is delicious as well and there are several others.
        Here's where everything went wrong: I consumed the entire meal while cruising around the Net and do not remember one single sensation from what, as I said, is usually my favorite meal of the day.

        Lesson learned: I will try never again to forget to eat mindfully unless, of course, I'm in some wildly riveting conversation. But that's different and I've discovered those situations seem to make food and wine taste better. The Internet does not, nor does television.
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