Monday, October 20, 2008

rock n' roll fever...

Stayed over at the Hard Rock Casino last night, and as I was walking in the door I suddenly wished I was dressed a little edgier, a bit harder, more rock n’ roll. How was it that simply pulling on that door handle in the shape of a guitar made me dying to know how to play one? How was it that one glimpse of the denim, platform boots, lycra and leather in the framed boxes, each outfit worn by a different rock icon, could make a person want to change their entire style identity in a split second?

Perhaps it was the cool guys with faux-hawks and wallet chains that park your car, or the black lit elevators playing classic rock ballads, or the idea of an entire casino full of people who might rock and roll all night, and party every day. I looked in my suitcase (an adorable Jane Marvel bag- decidedly NOT rock and roll) at all the tunics and things I had brought, searching for something that would capture the rock and roll vibe I was feeling. I settled on a black dress and stilettos, adding heavy eyeliner to at least help me feel like I fit in.
Then all of this got me wondering- while it’s a fun thought to completely transform your style in a moment, surely there are ways to channel those amazing rock icons without loosing yourself (or your own sense of style) in the process! For example, would Janis Joplin wear the stacked, clanging bangles by Alex and Ani (see images above), or could my glittering Toms shoes be inspired by the disco ball of Studio 54? There is no question that drinking my whiskeys from a black tumbler with a skull and cross bones makes me feel bad. But when I want a touch of edginess that won’t detract from my lady-like look during the week, I can carry a black snake print bag with gold hardware, and subtly show my inner rock star. A mini dress covered in metallic overlay, or a studded thong sandal will definitely keep you cool without becoming a costume. Focus on adding accessories with just a touch of edge to the personal style you have already made your own. You will feel the new vibe and your outfit will be a hit.

Monday, October 6, 2008

lyon, france...

Traveling through France at the moment, in Lyon meeting with a 100-year old silk manufacturing company- pure heaven. Working in an old Renaissance-era building surrounded by meters and meters of vibrant, luscious silks is my idea of a hard days work. While there, I cant help but think that the “new part” of Lyon, and many cities across Europe, was built before the United States even existed!

The metro system in Lyon is clean, modern and efficient, but today I found myself standing at the bicycle kiosk, wanting to join the ranks of local Lyonaisse riding the town on free city bicycles. (This incredibly successful program is also done in Paris- hundreds of bicycles are kept at kiosks across the city, and for pennies you can take a bike, use as needed, and return to any other part of the city. And on the whole, the people use the program correctly and respectfully!) After too much time attempting to translate the details of the program with my less-than-poor French, I gave up, unable to discover if or when I would get my rather large deposit back. I decided to save the bike riding for another day just as a chic you girl- unfussy but elegant in a way only the French women can accomplish- locked her bike back into its spot.

As a traveler, as a rule, I try to appear as far from a tourist as possible. This visit, however, I couldn’t help but be drawn to those typical clichés of an American in France, and be completely amazed by it all. The beautiful rows of baguettes for sale in straw baskets, the stacks of meringues two feet high in the windows of every patisserie, the endless unique flavors of the French chocolates, the wine. Oh, the wine!

I was headed to dinner at a traditional bouchon- think the birthplace of French cooking, but with an emphasis on strange cuts of meat- and wouldn’t you know it! It begins to rain. No shops were open and not an umbrella man in sight! You know those mysterious men in New York City who seem to stalk the Weather Channel reports, and then pop out at just the right moment, umbrellas in hand, on every street corner. They price gauge their wares to relieved tourists and locals caught unawares. Well… where were they? None to be found in Lyon, I’m afraid, nor any cabs. After a drenching jog over the Saone River to the vieux ville, or old town, I tucked into a salad Lyonnais with warm, soft poached egg over fresh lettuces with warm lardon. Heavenly and rustic. I found myself eating alone (traveling alone), but was thrilled to be out of the rain and enjoying the Lyonnais cuisine. Directly across from my solitary seat was a large portrait of an early Renaissance man in full, white pleated collar looking directly at me from the sides of his eyes, smiling, and toasting me with his glass of wine. I lifted my glass of cote du Rhône (being in the Rhône valley, of course) and toasted my dining partner back. Bon appétit!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

inspiration - equestrian...

There are very few tv shoes that I simply have to watch- very few that seem worth the time. Why watch other people living in exciting places and doing exciting things when we should be out there living our own life, right? Well, Mad men is an absolute exception to this style of thought. It is addictive, inspiring and fabulous.

If you have been living under a rock, Mad Men is a 16-time Emmy nominated show about a New York ad agency in 1960 – 62. The clothes are inspiring, the sets are insanely authentic, the storyline is riveting, and the cigarettes and cocktails are plentiful.

I happen to be especially obsessed with the riding attire of Betty Draper, wife of the protagonist. During the first season, she was a bored housewife, sure her husband was cheating on her (which he was) and struggling with her place in the world. By season two, the now-confident Betty has taken up English riding to fill her time, and she dresses like the Queen of England meets Jackie Kennedy.

As a lifelong rider myself, I am jealous and dumbfounded at the pristine, put together attire she wears when riding. Not a hair out of place, not a smudge on her shirt. Cashmere, silk scarves and gorgeous wool coats accompany her blond hair so perfectly coiffed under a velvet helmet. Perhaps they had grooms back then to do all the dirty work, but I am constantly amazed and intrigued by her attire.
I actually have in my closet a piece of riding attire from a by-gone (and more glamorous) era. A dark green pair of riding breeches was passed down to me from my grandmother and I have saved them for years. Of course I couldn’t fit into them even at the age of twelve (I blame it on over-zealous vitamin taking at an early age, but I am twice as tall and broad as any of my female ancestors), but I will always save them and their ridiculous but wonderful balloon hips and leather knee patches sewn by hand sometime after 1910.

Betty Draper looks as chic away from the barn as she does in the saddle, with floor-length evening gowns, full skirts and fitted dresses always a part of her wardrobe. If I could only look as chic in the saddle as Mrs. Draper, let alone on the streets, life would we as swell as it seems on Mad Men. Someone get me a martini and a cigarette…