Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You Know You're in a Southern Lowcountry Preppy's Garden When...

Gardening beauty can be found everywhere within Southern Lowcountry Preppy environs... even cut hydrangeas in a garden trug awaiting being taken on into the house.

You know you're in a Southern Lowcountry Preppy's garden when...

  • fiddler crabs are scampering around the herb bed

  • the kitchen garden's plantings include greens, okra, butter beans

  • hydrangeas bloom in the yard

  • the assorted garden trugs being used are antiques

  • garden tools, watering cans, boots and clogs are from England

  • the garden's scents include gardenia, honeysuckle, jasmine

  • there's a vine of confederate jasmine creeping up somewhere along a fence

  • garden accent colors are soft pastels amid various hues of green

  • there's not a garden gnome or pink flamingo statuette in sight

  • red brick is the bed liner, walkway and patio flooring of choice

  • there's a Charleston bench underneath a shade tree

  • inside and out, Camellias grace the atmosphere: both cut and also left on the bushes

  • terracotta pots of mint are prolific due to the year-round drinking of iced tea

  • the potting bench and garden shed areas are as pleasant and pretty as the garden itself

  • there's a damp, soil-dusted gardening journal log being used for record keeping

  • beat-up looking old wide-brimmed straw hats hang about for continual use

  • clumps of Spanish Moss seem to be everywhere

  • rose clippings are being rooted in washed-out glass jam jars

  • a chipped bowl of Johnson Brother's "Old British Castles" holds some seeds

...and so forth and so on... As anyone who's read the now classic, Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden knows, gardening in the Southern Lowcountry is not just part of one's life, it's part n' parcel of one's overall lifestyle. Being in a warmer clime, the year-round indoor/outdoor nature of residing within the deep coastal south seems to encourage a continual gardening experiencing. Whether it's acres of "grounds" being tended or a tiny potted herb garden set out just off of a back door's stoop, many lowcountry Preppies enjoy the rewards of their green thumbs being put to such daily delightful use.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wit and Whimsy within Deep, Deep South Gardening

Gardening with the sunny-side-of-life in mind and cultivated with trowel...
Both real and painted flowers brighten up the background of...

...Kev's potting bench area. Proof here that a potting area can be neat.

A delightful mobile made of drift wood n' sea shells by Rose.

I always appreciate a good sense of humor and I also appreciate it when beauty is not taken oh, so seriously but rather with a good dash of what I call, "wit n' whimsy"...and our friend Kev's garden does just this.

Natural beauty within a garden's landscape and, in this case, within Kev's neatly defined garden rooms can become all too formalized, all way too serious if we let it become more show than soul. Thankfully in regards to Kev's garden there in Bendigo, Australia, his sense of good humor shows throughout in many stylish touches. Cheerfulness exudes and the fortunate visitor becomes enchanted by this as they pass through the garden rooms and then find themselves lingering by the porched patio's outdoor fire pit late on into the evening. Ralph Waldo Emerson quipped that, "the earth laughs in flowers" and so it seems so natural that we gardeners and garden lovers should be laughing all the while as well.....
(A special thank you to Kev for giving me the permission to write about his very inspiring garden & share this with my readers!)

Deep, Deep South in Australia...

One of the many "rooms" in our friend Kev's truly amazing garden...
A quiet, shaded corner that's quite Zen-like in its wooded simplicity.

Turn the corner... it's a cool, cloistered fern n' frond delight awaiting you!

Various plants mesh together into the landscape in a delightful way... well as clambor upwards. A bevvy of vines is always divine!

Here I'm standing in another one of Kev's neat garden rooms.

Kev (on the left) and my brother James (on the right) get ready to settle-into the chairs on the porched patio.

While visiting family and friends in Australia this month, I was greatly-inspired by our friend Kev's garden which he designed and maintains in the wonderfully named "Kangaroo Flat" neighborhood area which is in beautiful Bendigo!

What a true delight it was to spend a weekend up there with my brother James as Kev's guests be given a tour of the garden in which it was to literally wander through room after room of greenery, flowers and outdoor structure. I loved the "room" concept and the way in which wherever you turned, there was another surprise or corridor leading into the next room awaiting. It was their autumn season when I visited and yet quite a bit was still in bloom. Another very atmospheric bent Kev has orchestrated with his garden is to let plants grow on into other plants in a way that's a pleasing mosaic of vines, leaves, branches and flowers running riot, but a well-maintained riot that is, throughout.

As well, Kev's garden has a bit of wit n' whimsy in it which I will do a second post about.........

There are many different gardens within our world. Gardens for showing-off, gardens with societal aspirations, gardens for structuring around a lawn and so forth and then there are gardens for the soul. In my opinion, Kev's garden is a wonderfully soul-filled one!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sex and The City 2 Premiere in Melbourne, Australia... a fun night which quite style-paralled the movie!

Channeling the style-spirit of my favorite television-portrayed Preppy, Charlotte York... I happily went to the "Sex and The City 2" premiere night in Melbourne Australia with three super-stylish ladies! How very authentic did that feel? Absolutely loved it!

I'll leave it up to my Aussie gal pals to decide who all's style they were channeling that evening... as for me, I've always been decidedly in the Charlotte-camp since along with her always classic yet feminine personal style, I also like her inherent sweetness, smattering of innocence and ever-positive outlook about living life. Plus, being Episcopalian before she married her true-love, yes....totally.

Over the years of the show, Charlotte's style stayed steady and fairly streamlined-Preppy which is kinda' how I also dress myself. Less "purposefully pink and green Pulitzer" and more pretty n' proper for any occasion. As intriguing as it was with watching Carrie's quirky and inventive style pairings, Samantha's smouldering sexiness and Miranda's neatly polished modern-urban vibe going on, seeing Charlotte's various outfits and accessories always gave me ideas and inspirations regarding my own wardrobe.

I got a big laugh during this movie sequel outta' how Charlotte looked in the flash-back scenes of the girls as they were dressing in the 1980's around Manhattan...where, oh where is my old, long-lost Bermuda Bag and those headbands I used to wear?! Earlier this spring, I purchased a Talbots skirt that looks very tennis-like as Charlotte's did in her retro-scene and I do indeed own a pair of Tretorn tennies though I choose to pair this particular skirt up with either strappy sandals or my new-favorite shoe lately: the wonderful camel-toned leather with silver buckle detailing peep-toe new-wedge pumps which you see here in this premiere' photo above.

Us-girls and our stunningly-beautiful male model friend (who was snapping this photo but you can see his picture with us currently posted at the top-left of the blog ) all met-up at "Top of the Town" for a fun pre-Premiere' private booth setting of wine, appetizers and a lots of good laughing time beginning to our evening...

Angela and I then stopped by the exotically-decorated The Spice House restaurant and lounge to grab a bit of supper before heading to the particular theater we had tickets for... another wonderfully "in the spirit of this movie" setting as this place was decked-out in decor' and atmosphere like the middle eastern traveling experience of the-girls in the movie. Right down to our curtained-off, much-candeled own private dining area complete with sofas and floor pillows to lounge on surrounding a low, ornate brass table- just amazing!

Overall, the BEST movie-premier evening I have ever attended (despite a not so well-written sequal) and the memories of this will be long savored... including, of course, the further style-inspirations of its Charlotte character. Long live, "preppy done well"!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another fun book report: "Australian Style- manners, interiors, occasions, fashion"

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to pop into independent bookstores and pick up local-flavored offerings of poetry, art, gardening, literature and lifestyle books. This past week while in Melbourne, Australia I espied this elegantly styled book cover, leaned in to further investigate, opened up the pages and...was thoroughly charmed!

"Australian Style- manners, interiors, occasions, fashion" by Melissa Penfold and Jenny Tabakoff is not only a great reference tome regarding all-things-styling-with-lifestyling but it is neatly formatted and most pleasantly so v.e.r.y...well written. Strong statements about style are dished out with wit and humor. Points about properness are quite pithy. Arguments presented about appropriateness are orchestrated with aplomb. Tips about looking top drawer all the while being creative with what one already has or can glean from vintage shops are terrific. And so on.

Reading this book is much like chatting away with a close girlfriend in a frank yet refreshingly encouraging bantering back and forth conversational manner.

It has become quite rare to find non-formulaic, non-overly dramatic or non-banally "professionalized" writing these days but fortunately these ladies have let their writing personalities shine through the text and typeset. This alone is worth the reading-of!

Here are a few excerpts I enjoyed which were found amid a bevvy of much more detailed information:

"Style is a redemptive as religion. Everything is forgiven, you don't have to be rich, and every day is an opportunity for a fresh start."

"Update your look: you don't want people carbon-dating you by your makeup."

"Being stylish is not about following fashion. Fashion is merely what's on offer, style is knowing what suits you."

"Never trust a teapot made in a country where tea is not a tradition."

"Etiquette is about knowing which fork to use and the right way to introduce people. Useful, yes- but only when accompanied with manners."

"Round tables are more companionable and democratic than long ones (no head, no power-statement chairs with arms), they accommodate more people and are better for communal eating."

"Houses that have some link with the outdoors are always the most successful."

And I laughed over this section because it's too-true regarding the gifting of wine:

"Wine is always acceptable, but think beyond the usual red or white. Here are some ideas for different types:

  • The wine snob: vintage champagne.

  • The girl who wants to have fun: the latest vodka.

  • The book clubber: a soft merlot.

  • The power couple: pinot gris (aka pinot grigio).

  • Social climbers: unwooded chardonnay.

  • Intellectuals: boutique imported beer.

  • Environmentalists: a case of cleanskins.

  • Non-drinkers: fantastically pretentious mineral water from the most obscure point on earth. Or balsamic vinegar."

The authors Penfold and Tabakoff do indeed offer up a delightful read about Australian stylistic lifestyling that is almost globally applicable; Americans, the English, the French and other nationalities can glean keen style insight and timeless inspiration from this bound to become classic Australian book.

Ah, yet another great style book to keep on my bedside table for perusal! The stack continues to grow...

Fall Fashion Preview from... Autumn in Australia Part 2

Great grape purple-hued styling as seen on the streets of Melbourne, Australia...
A deep purple wool short-cut trench coat looks simply stellar for 2010's Fall Fashion season!

This fall season's tailored menswear adds a wonderful dash of lavender-scarf to gray suiting.

High stylin' bankers go for the lavender and purple ties plus check out that trench coat- there it is again!

Our friend Rose funks-out purple in a great artsy n' casual vibe as we antique shop.

Purple reigns! No, not Prince's Purple Rain but rather a much more regal intonation of what has always been a hue of color associated with royalty throughout the ages. Add in a bit of ermine and some clustered big ole' jewels... well, I wouldn't be too surprised actually if that kind of additional accessorizing happened during this coming fall fashion season.

From midnight purple to warm plum to light, silvery lavender... a myriad of purple tones were literally spotted all around the sophisticated city streets of Melbourne, Australia recently. Currently it's their fall fashion season occurring right on the heels, stiletto heels no doubt, of the great Melbourne Fashion Week shows. Fashion is definitely strongly within this crisp fall air!

It was interesting to me to see how such a bold, decidedly non-neutral color was being interpreted within on-the-street fashion and I wasn't disappointed in the least at both the classic rendering of this as well as the more creative incarnations espied.

Occasionally I will add-in to my own wardrobe either a midnight purple or deep plum item but it's usually more the exception than the rule. Even though my bridesmaid's dresses were very tailored Lanz of Salzburg ballet length evening frocks rendered in a midnight purple fabrication whose black undertones wonderfully caught all the illuminating candlelit atmosphere of our evening wedding, I'm not typically a person who is drawn towards purpled hues.

But I may change my mind about this... after seeing it done so well in Melbourne...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fall Fashion Preview from...Autumn in Australia Part 1

My favorite of Melbourne, AU's "trending of the classic trench coat"- absolute perfection!
Variations on the trench coat theme: kacki coat-top/blouse and also a black jacket top.

Tan and I "strike a pose" before we burst out laughing- investment bankers are tres' hip!

With my sister-in-law Angela & another financial-realm professional also sportin' a trench coat.

Just move me right on into this boutique: timeless elegant preppy stylin' indeed!

What a wonderful time it was to be in Australia this month during their autumn season and be able to peek into the fall fashion trending that will soon be hitting our stores and boutiques here in America.

To say that the classic trench coat and various versions of it is a "fashion must" this 2010 autumn season is an understatement! Trench coats were literally everywhere but especially so within the fast-paced banking and investment section of the city of Melbourne and no, not just sighted on men. Women were trench-coated galore' and I absolutely loved seeing all the variations on a theme these great looking Preppies down-under enacted. Very savvy, very stylish and very inspiring!

I had packed my own trench coat to be my main jacket for this latest journeying to Australia and then picked up on its dark brown tortoise buttons for my main complementing wardrobing color. Hence, I was primarily decked out in kacki and chocolate brown. I travel-light whenever I head to Australia to visit family and friends since inevitably I bring back with me AU wine, art and some of their equally-wonderful all natural skin care products. My suitcase and roll-aboard carryon is always half-full and quite light on the way there and then of course much heavier and quite full on the way back.

Also noticed around the elegant city of Melbourne were animal prints especially cheetah; tall leather and suede boots of every color and styling; chunky layering of big cuff and bangle bracelets; neat hair and almost nude makeup aside from an occasional smoky eye or classic red lipstick; lots of stiletto pumps but also a surprising number of plain flats; scarves on both men and women which were knotted, twisted or wrapped along the front of the neckline and finally... more deep plum, classic purple and shots of lavender than I've seen in literal ages! (another blog post coming up will feature this "purple-ing trending")

What I didn't see much of during the day, evening or the weekends I was there are some of the latest fashion things being touted now such as maxi-length dresses and skirts; various 1980's retro styling; unusual haircuts or heavily-layered n' wavy hairdo's; huge statement necklaces; the new-clog or any Sex and The City 2 Moroccan/Middle Eastern-inspired wear n' jewelry despite going out on the town then to the theaters with a bevvy of very dressed-up women the night this movie premiered in Melbourne. In the movie theaters of this city, the women were dressed up indeed and also had Cosmopolitans, wine, champagne and other fun stuff in-hand to imbibe in since these theaters are upscale digs. Just loved that! I had wine and gourmet goodies to enjoy while watching a movie on the big screen instead of popcorn, a coke and the inevitable pack of something like Twizzlers... what a delightful experience I enjoyed with,, for once, being beyond-Twizzlers!

Maybe it's the elegantly classic lifestyling within the downtown of Melbourne itself that has (aside from the obviously "artsy/alternative" kinds of folks) most of its citizens looking so tailored and nicely verging on Preppy. Like a wondrous combination of Grace Kelley, Audrey Hepburn and Katherine Hepburns roaming around with a Cary Grant lookalike sighting as well. But then again, I also noticed this in Paris earlier this spring and from what I quickly got to see in Amsterdam as well. Maybe, rather, we're simply learning how to dress well, flattering and more appropriately in this 21st Century as we look back at the drastic fashion changes that the 20th Century wrought with each new decade and see much of this as comically costume-like. Fashion also can only go-retro so much until it begins to loose its innate sense of style freshness. Then again, there has always been a thin, tightrope-walking line existing between the foibles of fashion and the savvy of style.

There's no doubt that citified Melbournians are holding up their end of being fashionably stylish and what fun it was to get a peek into the coming autumn trends distilled for wearability with such fresh interpretation and panache'!