Saturday, October 17, 2009

Halloween Costuming...Preppy style

Lately I've been thinking of Halloween.... not a big ole' surprise, surprise eh during this month of October? But costuming, and what we choose to costume ourselves with, has been on my mind since running across the above photo of my husband and I dressed-up for a Halloween Ball the month we first began dating back in 1989. (We're standing in the hallway of my college dorm)
We could have gone to the festivities as I guess just about anything and once at the dance, it was glaringly obvious that most party-goers had come in about the wildest formations of "anything" they could muster. However, being both raised-Preppy, James and I 1.) sought Anglophile and historic inspiration, 2.) found the best class of costume to be had around town and 3.) coordinated our theme and so... I was the "Lady in the Tower" of London and James but of course was the Beefeater Guard of said tower ;)
This past April we enjoyed touring around the actual Tower of London together which was a blast and being there kinda' brought us full-circle to the theme of many a Halloween ago.
For my 40th Birthday blow-out-bash a few years back, we again coordinated our costuming efforts. This time, since we live out on a small island, we went for a local-flavor theme that had me dressing as a Mermaid and James simply gearing-up in his flyfishing apparel. That evening was such a fun celebration with the house literally packed-full of folks and our good friend Don "won" the best costume award with his quite amazing Don Juan impersonation: cape, sword, black mask, clothing n' tall boots and an attitude to match. He was hilarious!
SO in the spirit of Halloween and all-things-Preppy, here's a listing of Prep and Non-Prep Halloween attire to get a laugh out of and perhaps even some costuming inspiration from:
Prep Costume: going as a rendition of the family gardener complete with muddied Wellie boots
Non-Prep Costume: going as Larry the Cable Guy
Prep Costume: any Royal entity or actual personage... purple, ermine and crown is optional
Non-Prep: any current Hollywood "star" especially if the face is some full-head rubber mask
Prep Costume: a classic Vampire, Witch or Ghost
Non-Prep: Freddy Kruger, Jason, Michael Myers or any other low-budget film slasher
Prep Costume: one's mother's old Lilly Pulitzer maxi-gown aka Palm Beach circa 1970's
Non-Prep: doing the hobo-look because one has not thought of a decent costume in time
Prep Costume: Polo playing or English Riding togs
Non-Prep: Bowling League shirt and empty bowling ball bag carried for potential candy bounty
Prep Costume: looking subtely-sexy in a non-sexy costume
Non-Prep: those unfortunate tarty servitude French Maid, Pirate Wench and the like outfits
Prep Costume: classic Devil or Angel
Non-Prep: politician masks donned with an ill-fitting business suit
Prep Costume winner: dressing like-Daddy-does in a smoking jacket, leather slippers, pipe, etc.
Prep Costume loser: dressing like anyone Daddy or Mother hires including accountants, bankers
Hope you enjoyed a good tongue-in-cheek chuckle and Happy Halloween costuming to you all coming up!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Laughing at myself... Prepsters always maintain a good sense of humor, especially at their own expense

Oh, I just hafta' laugh and laugh hard...

Not ONE DAY after I posted about the frippery of funky fashion trends that end up being actually more comical than thoughtful additions into one's classic wardrobing- I get presented and accept a job offer for... you're going to love this....

Special Events Coordinator and Merchandising Consultant at a national retailor!!! :)

Oh, the irony of it all eh? Haha. BUT, and there's a huge however caveat here, this dual position involves a company known for its department store offerings having plenty of wearability with wardrobing and so, bringing in trends that are actually translatable. So I'll be back into having a blast producing special events n' fashion shows that actually MEAN something to the harried and overwhelmed consumer who wants a distillation of seasonal trends as well as a sincere avoidance of anything remotely clown-like coming into their closets. None of this bizarre' exaggerated shoulder pads fiasco going on right now or any return to M.C.Hammer pants on my runways.

Today I began pulling clothing, accessories, jewelry and shoes for an upcoming fashion show. I was well-pleased that the various clothing line selections are abundantly pretty and pretty darn wearable.

I love retail when it's realistic. Yes, I do understand the inspirational "concept stories" of designer collections coming down the runways each new season and used to get Women's Wear Daily which is considered by most to be the-bible-of-fashion. I have some Chanel, Armani and Versace' pieces in my wardrobe plus a couple a' those great Chanel handbags and haved truly loved them though I'm still.... justifying their expense. But I am also prudent and practical and certainly don't mind purchasing with longevity in mind.

Hence, no collar-necklaces (that frankly look like be-ribboned baby bibs) either on the runways, event shows and special merchandising that I'll be producing in the weeks n' months and most likely even years to come. After a 5-year hiatus from being gainfully employed within the fashion world, I'm back into it and am thrilled for this flexible-hours and creative license opportunity that came most unexpectantly my way.

I'm currently also in the throes of my final graduate school course for this MA degree I've been working on and so will be super busy between schoolwork and fashionwork but it's all good!

So here's to a good n' hearty laugh at myself and....

....enjoy the comical Frida Kahlo totebag image included in this post that just says it all (doesn't it?!) when an iconoclast of fevered anti-fashion expression within her lifetime becomes a commercial style all of her own posthumously. Ironies abound! And ironies abound especially within all-things-fashion.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Frugality has always been a Preppy Partiality

In the midst of doing a most-unpreppy task this past week, cleaning out our downstairs areas that include the two car garage with a studio next to it and then behind that, our long indoor-outdoor lattice room, I began thinking about the meaning of "stuff" in our lives. Most especially, how the Preppy Lifestyle is less about having lots of stuff, lots of new stuff and more about carefully choosing and caring for the various items one's family has passed along for generations as well as adding in at times a few more recent buys that are classic in style.

The ole' "less is more" and "elegance is always understated" maxims certainly apply here... as well as, "if you watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves."

There's a big elemental difference between being layered with family history within one's house and being layered under an excess of material goods. What's more at the heart of Preppydom: a small library room that's filled with well-used books and happens to have a regular-sized television in it or a great room whose emphasis is the huge entertainment center taking up a whole wall with its massive flat screened television complete with surround-sound and stacks of DVD's? One is an indicator of the active mind and one is an indicator of the entertained mind. It's not an intellectual stretch to figure out which one's more indicative of a true Preppy mindset.

It's the difference between wearing grandmother's cashmere sweater twin set instead of going out to buy some trendy sweater top that'll be dated looking by Spring. It's the contrast of lovingly tending a small herb and kitchen garden alongside the woods instead of hiring-out landscapers and their crews to enact the latest garden look that's inevitably too large and garish for the space gageing from the latest Chelsa Garden Show "winners" where the wonderful concept of a timeless English Garden has in recent years completely gone amuck.

Stuff that is meaningless comes to us fast and furious each season as retailers, merchandizers and lifestyle consultants n' gurus quickly spin trends in order to make a dime.

With the rare exception, they're not getting many of my dimes these last few years. I've gone completely off the trend-wagon and only buy now for either needed replacements or actual relevancy to my personal taste and style.

I've become all-about "perennials"- what is classic and will last season after season. The all too fleeting "annuals" no longer interest me. For instance, this past summer, super stylin' shoes were all about overly-strappy and high-heeled vampy styles but instead of buying these, I found two pairs of classic ballet flats with bamboo toggle trim in leather that will last n' last me for years. Recently I dropped by a local consignment boutique and espied several of these summer-trendy strappy stilettos on their shelves being resold at a fraction of their original price. Fashion can indeed meet up with frugality in the prettiest of ways when shoes last beyond just a couple of month's retail trend shelf-life. My summer shoe buying investments are real investments within the category that includes naturally the classic Chanel purse, black Rayban Wayfarer sunglasses, strands of pearls in any length, the little black dress, the tailored white blouse, Levis jeans and other tried n' true wardrobe investment pieces. Some stuff IS worth buying when it takes you through the years oh so elegantly.

Kind of like my old, and I do mean old, English Riding Boots that I both rode horses in and wore with great outfits for almost two decades until the cobbler told me that they could not be re-soled anymore. That was a sad day. I had loved those boots and definitely got more than my money's-worth out of them. They saw me in good stead atop a horse going over jumps and through the streets of Europe as well as through highschool, college and my early married years. Last year I finally replaced them with a pair that I bought on major-sale in January. I'm sure that these will last and last for at least another couple a' decades especially since I no longer get to ride horses much anymore.

And maybe it's turning into my 40's that has me much more mindful of how I'm living out my life. I'd rather err in the vein of lasting and appropriate quality than waste time n' money focusing on the ever-changing of the moment quirky in quantities. Both in the fashion-side of living out life and in the where-do-I-use-my-resources of time, money, metal and physical energy, this is on my mind lately as I've now crossed over into living out the other half of my life what with the average age of women lasting up into their late 70's. My second-half of living won't be running around trying to keep up with any kind of trend whether it's fashion, food, wine, decor' or the latest travel spot.

Authentic living means being true to oneself rather than being trendy. Find the "trends" that are "truly you" whether you're a bit on the bohemian side or a bit romantic or whatever...find a way to mix them in with the classics and ignore the rest. I'm more of a classic-romantic so whenever subtle ruffles and ribboned-bows pop up in the trends, I'll take advantage of that and buy a few items but lately, with the return of ugh-80's frights like exaggerated shoulder pads, leggings, mall hair and neon brights, I'm happily letting alla' this just pass me on by, wheh.

This weekend I've been spending most of my time and efforts outdoors kayaking with my husband and sitting out on friends' river porch well after a dinner party had ended last night enjoying the conversation, chilled wine and a cool night. Running around shopping or heading to a mall isn't on the agenda for howmy weekend's going to flow so I'm both saving money and saving myself from purchases that won't last past one season.

Preppy is all about the things that endure, the efforts we make towards being rather than purchasing, lovingly taking care of things and passing them on rather than simply amassing them and having a good time with our family and friends throughout it all.

So that's been my thoughts about "stuff" and how frugality has always really been a Preppy partiality in such a very good way.

Oh, and the stuff we've been clearing out of our downstairs? It's old, former household stuff (like excess pots n' pans, linens, etc.) that was moved with first my parents' move here to the island and stored and then us as well as we combined households in order for me to take care of my parents. 5 years later, we decided to finally go through all of these extra boxes n' bags and have taken them to the dump and Goodwill in order to streamline ourselves of....excess "stuff". No trendy replacements for any of this is planned that's for sure- we have enough and are happy with that.

So... on to more Preppy-pursuits like having a great time with our fellow islanders! And so here's raising a wine glass out on a river porch to, "less stuff, less running around with buying of trends and rather, classic things that enable us more lasting times enjoyed with family n' friends"... Less IS more in so many, many ways.