chic ~~ should it have a price tag?

Brace yourselves.  It’s time for a chic rant.

Obviously, I have a thing for all things “chic” since I have incorporated the word into my blog title.  I love chic!  Naturally, I am drawn to articles and information that promotes the concept and celebrates it.  But this does not mean that I seek my inspiration and guidance from fashion magazines.  No, siree!  I gave up on the glossies a long, long, long time ago.  I didn’t even really enjoy them back in my teen years or my impressionable  20s.  When I was 19 my subscription was to “Victoria” magazine (I subscribed  to this magazine for years).  That admission should tell you a great deal about little ole’ vintage moi.  “Vogue”, “Cosmopolitan”, and the like were, at best, bought on rare occasions–like maybe the September issue of “Vogue” or an issue featuring a favorite person.  The biggest reason I didn’t buy them was because I have always been more of a realist.  The flamboyant fashions and styles presented in those 1980s/90s magazines either made me laugh or scratch my head.  Did I ever find inspiration?  Rarely.  (Conversely, did I find inspiration in “Victoria”?  Oh yeah.  I remember owning at least one Lanz dress).

Another reason I quickly tired of them?   Because of  the outrageous, over-priced clothing and accessories that would be featured in those slick pages.   Or should I say the outrageous, over-priced garb that the “slick” advertisers and editors were using to target me–a small-town, non-fashionista who didn’t know a Chanel from a channel.

$500 for a pair of shoes?

$1200 for a skirt?

$3000 for a handbag?

WHO were these fools kidding???

I lost interest.  I didn’t know who was spending that kind of money for a wardrobe but I did know it wasn’t, and never would be, me.  I had more fun watching  black and white classic films for style inspiration than wasting my time on the glossies.

With that brief history lesson about fashion magazines and me, imagine my chagrin when I came across an online article from Harper’s Bazaar entitled, ” Eleven Things Every Fashionable Woman Should Have by 30″.  I took the bait.  I was curious how they would present this “must have” list.  And by 30?  Most 30 year olds I know are paying off student loans, buying first houses/cars, or having their first babies.  But yes, by all means, let’s find out what “every fashionable” 30-year-old should have  in addition to these other necessities of life:

1.  A Classic shoe.  They mentioned it didn’t matter if the shoes were heels or flats as long as they were “well-designed, versatile and timeless”.  The shoes pictured are black  stilettos by Manolo Blahnik for $595.

(via Zappos–probably NOT what Harpers had in mind–LOL!)

2.  A Great Suit.  This should be tailored to fit you like a glove and it will take you from interviews to anywhere you need to be “chic and professional”.  The featured suit is by Stella McCartney.  The jacket is $1295 and the pants are $595.

JJill

(this is pretty much my idea of a tailored suit, J.Jill Wearever)

3.  A Signature Flower.  I actually found this suggestion refreshing.  There is really no price on this item.  You just find what you like and make it yours.  Yet, here I am at 43, and I don’t think I could pick just one “signature” flower.  Roses, peonies, irises, lily of the valley, tulips all make my heart rejoice.  I guess this one is a major fail for me.

(one of my many faves…and I love this shot taken a few years ago)

4.  A Beautiful Timepiece.  OK.  I love watches–I really do.  And I would rather wear a nice watch than a “fashion” watch any day.  But will buying a $2350 Hermes H Heure be feasible for the average woman by 30?  Can a timepiece cost less than that and still be beautiful?  Yes, it can.

I Love my Philip Stein watch!

(Philip Stein Dual Time Watch. Retails for $800-$1000.  I found mine on Ebay for just over $100)

5.  A Go-To Lip Color.  Agreed.  The M.A.C. brand featured is not unreasonably priced either ($16).  A great lip color is always a good idea.  I buy a Revlon lip gloss as my “go-to” color for around $7 or $8.  Worth it.  Make-up is a great way to wear haute couture designers without taking a second mortgage on the house.

Mary Kay® NouriShine Plus® Lip Gloss

(I also love this one–this is my “splurge” gloss by Mary Kay)

6.  A Personal Scent.  Another suggestion that didn’t have a pricey example.  Kudos, HB!  Just like make-up, this can vary greatly in price.  But I like the idea of having a personal scent.  Did I have that figured out by 30?  Nope.

Tocca Beauty - Florence

(currently I love Tocca fragrances Florence and Simone–via Sephora)

7.  Jewelry You Never Take Off.  In the article it mentions owning an “heirloom” quality piece and shows a $16,870 ring.  I wear my wedding ring and a ring inherited from my grandmother.  Neither of which even come close to that value.  Still, they are priceless to me.

8.  Original Art You Love.  Again, another suggestion that is open to interpretation.  A $5,800 painting is shown in the article but it is said that this original piece can be anything that speaks to you.  At 19, I fell in love with a turn-of-the-century Impressionist type print.  It was gifted to me by my love before I was 30 and it still hangs in my house.  I also cherish some photos I have taken and a little clay Loch Ness monster made by my Belle Fille when she was in 3rd grade.  Again, all priceless to me but in no way nearing a $5,800 price tag.

(via~have loved this since I was 19.  obviously, i don’t own the original)

9.  A Forever Bag.  Torn and divided on this one.  While I would love to own a couple different iconic bags, spending thousands of dollars on a handbag makes absolutely no sense to me.  And would it really, truly be my forever bag??  It would never wear out?  I would never tire of it?  Doubtful.  Was I in a position to buy a $2500 handbag at 30?  Am I now?  Again, a hearty, nope!

koretblack

(not chanel but looks pretty close–vintage koret)

10.  A Killer Winter Coat.  “A neutral hued topper in a luxe fabrication will take you miles and years”.  I wrote about coats not long ago.  And I agree that a well-made, great quality coat is a smart investment (especially if you have survived the long, cold winter of 2014 like I just did).  To buy what Harpers is easily intimating, one had better be prepared to plop down a grand or two (or more).  Because what I have seen in stores in the $500 range WAS NOT top quality.  I say buy vintage if you truly want an affordable, awesome, well-crafted winter coat.  My $1 investment, garage sale find,  still suits me well.  And the Talbot’s cashmere/wool blend coat I bought before the age of 30 (on sale) still looks great and is being used by my mom.  She says she gets compliments when she wears it.

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11.  The Perfect Little Black Dress.  In the article, that is all that is said.  No suggestions.  No brands given.  And yes, I can agree that having a LBD is a good idea even before 30.  LBDs are timeless.  Does it have to cost the small fortune fashion magazines would like  you to believe it should?  Not at all.  Just find one that suits your body type, swing on some pearls (faux work great too!)  and you are good to go.

That was some list, huh?

OK.  Let’s have some fun.  Let’s pretend I am 28.  Harper’s Bazaar is my fashion bible.  I see this article and  think, “yes, I want to know what I must do/own to be fashionable during the next 2 years so I can achieve that prestigious accolade of fashion greatness by 30″.  I read the article, take my notes, make a plan, and finally do the math.  I will need to invest around $30,000 (not including the costs of the coat, LBD, signature scent and flower) to realize this dream, fantasy, farce.

And this is why I do not like fashion magazines.  Alternatives are not given.  The examples chosen are ridiculous either in style or price.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe there is “merit” to the above list.  But to have all these things by 30?  Farcical.  To have to spend that kind of money by 30?  Equally so.  I knew myself better at 40 than I ever did at 30 and I still can’t afford, nor would I choose to spend, that kind of money on  perishable “things”.

Rant over.

Yes, I know my world is small.  I know there are women out there that can spend seemingly endless wads of cash on the “best”–or maybe it is just the “now”–fashion.  Fine.  Great.  Whatever.  I just wish more fashion magazines would cater to real women, the true demographic of our society.  And I really wish they would all cease with “must have” lists.  They are  “must haves” according to “them” and not tailored to “you”.  Being “chic” does not have a price tag.

Thoughts?

~~Heather~~

photography ~~ monument (weekly photo challenge)

This is a small town.  Monuments? There are a couple of statues here and there.  And there are some really cool gravestones in the cemetery.  But the monument that really “speaks” for our town in the Iron Bridge:

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You can read more about the history of the Second Street Iron Bridge here.

For more monuments, visit the Daily Post.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and have a great Monday!!

~~Heather~~

french friday ~~ new french-y reads

Bonjour!

This week I wanted to share some books with you that I have recently bought.  I enjoy reading “memoir” type books about people who give it all up and move to France.

Inspirational.

I have read many and I can’t think of one I didn’t like.  Now I have added some new titles to my library.  I was hoping to have finished this first one before blogging about it but I have not.  I am in the middle of it and adoring (almost) every moment.

Paris Letters

(via barnes and noble)

What I appreciate about Janice’s story is everything she consciously did before realizing her dream.  She knew she had to save up a load of money to make her dream work.  And she did it!  Granted, she had a good job and only herself to consider through this process.  But she was very proactive in making her plan happen.  And it all started with minimizing and not spending money.  For a year.  Reading of her success makes me more determined to stay on my minimizing path.  Can I, will I, be able to move to France in a year?  No.  But I love thinking of it as part of a three to five-year plan.  If not France, definitely abroad somewhere for the sheer experience of it.  The only reason I haven’t finished her book is because I have been also reading her blog.  Her writing and voice are so refreshing.

My other books waiting in the wings are these:

(via Amazon)

and

(via Amazon)

So many books, so little time.  Can’t wait!

Do you enjoy reading memoirs?  Where would you move if you could live anywhere?

Have a beautiful weekend!

~~Heather~~

P.S.  I am working on a giveaway idea…more details to come!!

french friday ~~ a brief history of coffee

Bonjour!

 Welcome to French Friday.  Truth?  It sort of sneaked up on me.  I was shuffling around the kitchen this morning, making my coffee when it slowly dawned on me that it was Friday….and I had not written a French Friday post.  What to do, what to do, what to talk about?? I thought as I stared at my french press…patiently waiting for my morning fix of smooth black elixir.  And that’s when my “history” with coffee came to mind.

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I  love coffee.  In my later years, I dare say, I have become a bit of a coffee snob.  Yep.  I am one of those people who would rather not have coffee if it is not really good coffee.  Taste, body, brew, strength all make a difference.  And yet, I haven’t always loved it.  I used to hate it.

Back in my single days I was a Diet Coke addict.  I drank it from morning till evening.  The best Diet Coke was from McDonald’s (I still believe this).  I don’t know what it is with their “brew” but somehow they have come up with the best combination of carbonation and chemicals.  It has stood the test of time.  It never let me down.  Whenever I could, I would start my mornings with a drive-by.  Large diet Coke, light ice, s’il vous plait et merci!

After I got married, the Diet Coke addiction continued.  However, the Diet Coke girl had married a coffee addict…an undiscriminating coffee addict to boot.  I had never seen anyone drink the copious amounts of coffee that my new husband could put away.  He drank it from morning till evening.  Blech!  At that time he was buying dark roast Folgers or Maxwell House.  Once in a while he would get me to try a sip.  Gag!  No thanks.  I would quickly grab my Diet Coke to erase the bitters.  Would Diet Coke Girl and Coffee Boy ever find balance?

The years passed.  Our life continued in the same pattern.  When we traveled, I was always with my Diet Coke.  On the road, hitting a McDonald’s was usually pretty easy.  If we were staying somewhere, whether hotel or with friends, I had a supply of 20 oz. Diet Coke bottles with me.  Hubs getting his coffee fix was never a problem either–even if it was the bottom of the barrel, day old coffee–he was good.  In his world, that’s why the microwave was created.

By the late 1990s/early 2000s, coffee places were starting to pop up everywhere.  You know the ones;  Starbucks, Gloria Jean’s, Biggby (originally called Beaners), coffee kiosks in book stores, etc.  Now I was hearing words associated with coffee that were completely foreign–and a little exotic–to me.  Espresso.  Cappuccino.  Latte.  What the ….?  And since I was entering my thirties, I thought perhaps it was time to enter the adult world of coffee drinking (I still snicker at this naïve thought).

I started soft.  Lattes!  Lattes laden with caramel syrup, whole milk, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles! Oh!  This is coffee?  I have been missing out!  It was like drinking a candy bar.  Pretty soon my caffeine/sugar sopped brain started figuring out that one of my favorite coffee drinks was like drinking 1000 million calories in one sitting.  Not good.  So I got really serious:

“Yes, I would like a venti, 2 pumps of sugar-free caramel, skinny latte with an extra shot espresso”.

As I got more aware and became more “health conscious” it would change to:

“Yes, I would like a decaf venti, 1 pump sugar-free caramel, soy latte with an extra shot espresso”.

Brett hated ordering my coffee drinks for me.  It was a lot to say.  And neither of us could ever remember the proper order of ingredients when giving the request to the barista.  We just fumbled out the order.  But hey!  He finally had a coffee drinking wife.  His fantasy girl was complete.  He ordered.  I drank. Marital bliss.

And then in 2004 we went to Paris.  It changed everything.

The average Paris bistro, restaurant, brasserie did not offer foo-foo coffee drinks.  Nor did they seemingly have Brett’s old faithful, brewed coffee.  What they served was straight forward.  Espresso.  Cappuccino.   Cafe presse.  And whatever they served was always the BEST. @#$%. COFFEE. EVER.

Here I was, 34 years old, experiencing the joie de café for the first time in my life.  I was drinking unflavored, strong coffee and loving every sip of it.  I would add a little cream…and that was all I needed.  It was so incredibly good.  In Paris, I became an adult coffee drinker.

photo

(the “adult coffee drinker” 10/2004)

Ten years later, I have yet to replicate that joyous, taste-bud explosion.  And oh, have we tried.  I can’t tell you how many types/brands of coffees I have bought to try to find that rich, dark, smooth coffee of Paris.  There was a brand from Italy that I used for a while that was very close but my grocer stopped carrying it long ago (and I can’t remember the name).  Fellow blogger, Viveka, recommended LaVazza and I am so glad she did.  I love LaVazza but it is hard to find it in my neck of the woods (usually have to hunt online).  Lately, I have bought a blend from our local coffee shop that is actually really, really good.  But whatever I buy, I have found that the best cup of coffee  I can make will always come from my French Press.

Brett still drinks his coffee filter brewed.  But not me.  I think I have surpassed him as a coffee connoisseur.  I have no problem waiting a little longer for my morning cuppa (errr…carafe)  because I know it will be the BEST.  @#$%. COFFEE. I can drink outside of Paris.

And what is my coffee order now?

“Yes, I would like a french press coffee please.”*

If you thought my previous orders were complicated, you would not believe how many furrowed brows I have encountered with this one.  Oh. my. word.  Just boil some water and give me the press with dark roast coarsely ground beans…I’ll take it from there.

No sugar.  No cream.  Just boiling hot water over beans.  And then the pleasure.  I love this quote from Robert Arbor’s book, “Joie de Vivre”:

“In France, we do not rush to drink our coffee.  In fact, during a leisurely breakfast, it doesn’t matter to us at all  if the coffee in our bowls reaches a lukewarm temperature. We prefer to have the espresso that we drink in the café come to us hot, but at home we are very content lingering over our slowly cooling bowls of coffee.”

Well said.

How do you like your coffee?  Have you tried using a french press?

~~Heather~~

*occasionally my order will be a triple shot espresso or cappuccino (dry).

P.S.  By now you have realized that my link ups haven’t really happened and that the inspiration behind my French Fridays, Cupcake Caramel, is folding up shop.  So sad and she will be missed.  If anyone would like to link up on French Fridays, just let me know.

photography ~~ my first spring day

We have had a couple of nice days since the official arrival of Spring but I would have to  say that today was my official spring feeling day.  I opened some windows in the house to let in fresh air and let out the stale.  I cleaned off the back patio, brushed off the chairs, spiffied up the glass table, set out a couple of decorative items and then hung this:

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And now I wait.

I am looking forward to more “real” Spring days.  How about you?

~~Heather~~