Sunday, November 28, 2010

You Know It's A Southern Lowcountry Preppy Holiday Season When...

Yes, you know it's a Southern Lowcountry Preppy's Holiday Season when...

  • "Merry Christmas Y'all" embroidered linen hand towels surface in guest bathrooms

  • Magnolia leaves are gilded with gold paint and used profusely when decorating

  • Winter-coats are thin quilted vests by Barbour and Talbots

  • Winter boots consist of Wellies, one's riding boots and black dressy-heeled versions

  • Tartan, especially family tartans, is the pattern-of-choice in decorating and clothing

  • There's a kilt or two being worn to the midnight Christmas Eve church service

  • Suburbans and station wagons sport small evergreen wreaths wired onto their front grills

  • Potted Amaryllis and Narcissus sit next to vases of freshly cut flowers from the yard

  • Every other gift being put under the tree has a monogram somewhere on it

  • Guns for sport shooting are being polished-up as much as is the silver

  • Needlepoint stockings are being hung up on the mantle or the dining room's sideboard

  • A "Tasting Table" is being set up to house whatever small edible gifts come one's way

  • The ever-present small bar with cut crystal decanters is being utilized more than usual

  • The Christmas Cotillion season is commencing

  • One's social schedule also includes oyster roasts as well as in-town cocktail parties

  • There are less events planned for the children and much more for adults of all ages

  • Babysitters are in high demand during evening after evening and all weekends as well

  • Most of the "bling" on women comes from inheriting their greatgrandmother's baubles

  • Men dust off their old tux yet once again and try to polish up very well-worn dress shoes

  • Bottles of wine or huge bouquets gathered from the garden are hostess gifts

  • Heading to the beach or going out to the dock is the way to de-stress during the holidays

  • Most shopping is done locally and takes awhile since literally everyone knows one another

  • Poinsettias are ordered for church decor and also for placing out in the family graveyard

  • Claims of having a fruitcake receipe that actually-tastes-good run rampant

  • Chasing a piece of fruitcake with sherry, Madeira or scotch is a well-known survival tool

  • Pine cones, greenery and red berries grace interiors of houses however...

  • ...scads of sea shells & untreated Spanish Moss with its tiny bugs are only used by tourists n' transplants: bless their "all too eager to blend-in" hearts

  • Seafood dishes are as part of the menu as is the more traditionally-considered holiday fare

  • Stocking stuffers for adult males include a box of shotgun shells

  • Stocking stuffers for adult females include something glittering in a tiny jewelry box

  • Stocking stuffers for male children include a small sailor's knots how-to book

  • Stocking stuffers for female children include one piece of her sterling flatware's pattern

  • Stocking stuffers for the eldest family matriarch are small bottles of her favorite "spirits"

  • Adults sit in the dining room for holiday meals and children are relegated to their own children's-table made out of bridge card tables or put into whatever kitchen seating works

  • Nativity Pageants and Christmas Morning are when the children are the main attraction, er attention

  • After Christmas Day festivities, there's a boat ride, shoot, beach or woods walk scheduled

  • Apres' Holiday Season, Father retreats to the family farm, Mother goes on a Girls'-trip somewhere either much colder (skiing) or much warmer (tropical isles) and the children are sent back to school with much relief.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Sparkle, sparkle"...a Southern Belle's mantra and this Holiday Season's theme

Pretty pewter shimmer n' sparkle from a dress available at Belk
This sparkly combination comes as cuff links or earrings at Brooks Brothers

And more elegant-bling with this great ribbon-tie belt from Talbots

Finally...some sequined-top sparkling at college for a holiday season party

In the lexicon of all-things Southern Belle can never "sparkle" enough...whether literally or figuratively or in the active embellishment of one's environment.

As one of my favorite Christmas books quips, "Subtlety and gold aren't such good bedfellows below the Mason-Dixon line, where gold comes with a spray nozzle. What aerosol did for hair was nothing compared to what it's contributed to Christmas. Gold-painted trimmings have become the high hair of seasonal festivities." How utterly true! David C. Barnette is spot-on and oh so funny with his book titled, The Official Guide To Christmas In The South Or, If You Can't Fry It, Spraypaint It Gold. Published in 2004 and espied on a shelf in the darling local store we have here called Lulu Burgess where I picked it up, perused through a couple of pages, began chuckling under my breath and promptly took it up to the counter to purchase...this small tome has become a must-reread for me every holiday season since then.

Oh, us Southern Belle Preppies and our "sparkle", oh yeah! Just this week I've read a Facebook post by a sorority sister who's been sparkling a lot with her decor' decorating gigs going on, just this week Talbots is sporting its beautiful and so elegant "Glisten Up" holiday offerings and just this week married-couple friends of mine thought of me when they were in the Citadel Mall in Charleston looking around at all the glittering, sparkling Holiday decor' in the shops there. In the book, A Southern Belle Primer by Marilyn Schwartz, Chapter 3 is titled, "Learning to Sparkle" which details just a few of the ways n' means by which Belles sparkle aside from inherited diamonds, gold-gilded magnolia leaf wreaths and such.

Underlying and over-layering all of the traditional reds and greens and everything-in-betweens of this holiday season's fashion, home decor' and gifting is....sparkle!

A rich dusting of metallic glimmer in gold, silver, champagne, pewter, bronze, cameo and other pretty hues can be found almost wherever one turns their head to look. I'm much more of a subtle-sparkle kind of person now but obvious-sparkle has certainly been a part of my past:

The photo above proves this with a party-pic of James and I from a winter's Casino Party at college where I wore a festive Jester-top heavy in late 1980's sequin-styling. Lately I'm into the utilization of subtle-sparkle or a dash of outright bling with either real gems or gobs of faux but....neither of these enacted together. Sparkling does have its limits!

Other pictures above are from some of this season's sparkle-bling metallic inspirations which I think are really great interpretations-on-a-theme...

And so we sparkle, sparkle onwards through this autumn on into the holidays and winter!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Autumn Inspiration...A Merry Mix of Burgundy, Reds and Pinks!

Burgundy...Red...Pink...blended into a color tone mix that's Autumn + Holiday

Magazine, catalogue pages and even a book with this color-blend going on...

My own lifestyle color blend grouping of Burgendy-Red-Pink...even the phone!

Kinda' sounds like a wine list doesn't it? Burgundy, Reds and, yummy but actually these are the color tones which are really catching my eye this fashion, home decor', life styling and gardening season.

Much like a Preppy madras, plaid or whimsical patterns compliments of Lilly Pulitzer, Vera Bradley and yes, occasionally a Brooks Brother's tie, this juxtaposition of warm tones is both beautiful and eye catching at the same time. It has definitely been something I've noticed again and again this autumn.

They're not colors I'd automatically put together in a room, outfit or floral arrangement and yet, gosh, they really work well when... chosen well...because there are burgundies, reds and pinks and then there are burgundies, reds and pinks.

The tones of these colors which are the ones that work so well together are: a deep-wine burgundy, a dark-glossy red and clear, peony-hued pink.

A burgundy like this is reminiscent of elegance, sophistication and old world Europe. A red like this connotes a sense of timelessness, strength and Americana. A pink like this effuses an atmosphere of femininity, flirty cheerfulness and the everyday-pretty of Southern Belles.

One thing I've noticed with this particulr blending is that it's usually complemented by cream, buttery yellow, browns, taupes and even shimmery champagne and golden tones. Very unexpected and quite lovely when espied among the apparel, decorative items, linens, interiors, catalogues and magazines all around us this fall as the months turn cooler and the holidays fast approach.

I realized that this color-blending had literally struck-home the other afternoon when I was over at our cottage sitting on the sofa. All around me were items which had these hues within them either singly, doubled-up or all together and like a light bulb turning on, it dawned on me that, wow, this is a trend that really resonates with me...obviously!

Above are some photos highlighting this as well as my grouping on the table for a picture, many of the items from the sofa-sitting-epiphany. The table collage includes the following: tweed jacket by Madison from Belk, necklace from Talbots, small round red leather box from our Paris spring trip, pages about flowers for the home from an opened "Occassions" by Kate Spade book, Traditional Home and Vogue magazines, "Fashion Makeover" book picked up at Tuesday Morning recently, silk embroidered pillow, my red leather date book with faux crocodile skin texturing, Estee' Lauder Double Wear eyeshadow creme in Vintage Violet and shimmer lip loss in Plum Divine, Blackberry Curve phone in Fuscia and finally, Wet n' Wild's nailpolish in Mauve Frost that I bought on a whim and now absolutely love paring with burgundy-toned and brown clothes especially.

"Happy Autumn Into The Holidays" everyone and here's to the warmth and beauty of burgundy, red and pink gracing our atmospheres this year and perhaps as a soon-to-be-classic-blend for many years to come!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Prep-Americana...American Styling, oh so Patriotically

Americans hold their flag up high...Preppies do this too plus wear red, white and navy blue year-round
Ralph Lauren's American flag jacket patch with Americana-fashions featured in his 2010 Collection.

Patriotic fashion-styling in classic American red, white and blue... jean, Tommy Hilfiger style from his 2010 collection.

Another stylish interpretation of Americana colors n' fabrics from Tommy Hilfiger, 2010.

Patriotic Preppy to a tie, er "t"... Former President George H. W. Bush!!

There's no doubt at all that in the world of Preppies, we sport just a bit of Americana styling.

Perhaps the best renditioning of this can be found within Ralph Lauren's interpretations of all things elegantly American: from western cowboys n' indians style looks to northeast nautical offerings to military vibes, cotillion couture and assorted collegiate inspired fashioning...

Other designers and lifestyle designers like Tommy Hilfiger, Kate Spade and so on also bring forth Americana into personal fashion expression from their clothing lines to their linen collections and accessory pieces. Then there's the stalwart preppy purveyors like Brooks Brothers, L.L.Bean, Talbots etc. where a dash of red, white and navy blue can be espied beyond the Fourth of July in flag prints, geometric patterns, florals and stripes.

Born-To Preppies well know about Patriotism as for generations it's highly likely that someone within the family served as an officer in the military. West Point, The Citadel, Annapolis, aka the United States Naval Academy, are in the Preppy vernacular just as much as various Ivy League institutions, women's colleges and boarding schools are...

Since Preppy IS born of America, of course it stands to reason that anyone who is a Preppy should obviously be patriotic towards the country within which this lifestyle has developed. There are all versions of "Preppy" within our nation from the northeast to the southeast and some areas inbetween but overall, we are classic American to the core and our Preppy poster-boy has been and will always be Former President George H. W. Bush. A gentleman always and ever a class act...even if he has become friendly towards Bill Clinton over the past few years. The stark contrast between these two former presidents' backgrounds, family life, personal actions, cultural leanings and influences and so on is staggering enough not least their collaborative post-presidency friendship but that's a blog post perhaps for another day.

Suffice it to say that if one is looking for a Patriotic Preppy in terms of demeanor, style, lifestyle and personal valor displayed during his service in WWII, his presidency and's hard to find anything better than the example set by George H. W. Bush.

Here's to our Veterans, Soldiers, Stylists of Americana and favorite Preppy Former President on this Veteran's Day of November, 11th 2010....and... here's ultimately to the United States of America!

Veteran's appreciation salute...

American soldiers from a watercolor circa mid-1700's

Here's to the generations after generations of American Veterans and active military keeping our freedoms and American spirit alive and well!

At times within today's world and current culture it seems like actual freedom is rather precious "few and far between" the various losses of privacy, decision making and autonomy of living out our daily lives we're experiencing all around us. However, in comparison to so many countries and cultures around the world, we are in a rare minority of peoples to whom individual and societal freedom finds actual enactment.

My gratitude goes out to those who hold up freedom's bright torch in the fading twilight of what we've known as modern, and post modern, civilization...