Elegant  Survival

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Since 2006

M-J's Miscellany

Elegant Winter Dressing

Posted on January 4, 2017 at 10:10 AM

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Above: M-J de Mesterton in a Tibbett Duffel Coat of Elysian Wool, Insulated Aigle Boots from France; a Mongolian Cashmere Scarf by Johnstons of Elgin, Scotland; a White Fox Hat Made in Helsinki; a Plaid Tweed Skirt, Black Leather Cashmere-Lined Gloves from Italy, and a Walking Stick Made of Scotch Broom

Published at Elegant Survival in 2011: Wear warm clothes when it's cold outside and inside. The days of women showing their bare arms year-round just because an occupant of the White House does it to show off her biceps are coming to a close in about three weeks.  The current president has, since 2009, kept the oval office at a balmy 85° year-round, as though he were in Hawai'i, while instructing the citizenry to "tighten your belts". The rest of us, if we have heat at all, keep our places at 68° or even cooler, thanks to the punitive cost of fuel.

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Above: on Christmas Day 2016, I'm wearing a turtleneck under a round-necked dress, nylon stockings, a silk & cashmere pashmina, and faux-fur-lined tall leather boots. Most winter days, I'd be wearing tweed and sweaters.

Elegant Dressing for Autumn: Classic Tweed Travelling Suit

M-J de Mesterton in Aquascutum Tweed Suit, Her Perennial Favourite

Rugged, traditional, and elegant tweed made from Scottish wool is the best material for fall and winter dressing. Easily covered with a trench-coat or embellished with a pashmina or long wool scarves, tweed will keep you warm and dry.Tweed suits, skirts, trousers and jackets are always fashionable.

My husband and I found it odd, if not historically-incorrect, to see the inhabitants of Downton Abbey wearing sleeveless flapper dresses all over the huge, inevitably cold and difficult-to-heat house, at all hours, without wraps or sweaters. Those dresses were made to be worn at nightclubs while dancing the Charleston, where  hyper-activity and body-heat of the crowd made it possible to stay warm while baring arms.

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Dining at Downton: thanks to cocktails, aperitifs and wines, scantily-clad ladies there could abide the evening without shivering. Or maybe not; Ralph Lauren designed wardrobes for the series, and may have just assumed that women dressed like flappers in most situations because it was the Roaring Twenties. I doubt that 1920s women were so silly, but there have always been nonsensical followers of fashion, like the ones who are now wearing peep-toed shoes without stockings all winter long in cold climates. My grandmother, who was born in the Victorian Age, told me that to be beautiful, one must suffer--I know that freezing's not what she meant. Even body-heat from large groups at table does not take the chill off England's grand country houses for most months of the year; shoulders are usually covered with something at dinner, such as a little fur garment or shawl that could be removed later in the evening for dancing. And no self-respecting woman would be standing about the house during winter in just a sleeveless gown.

Speaking of winter dressing and silly followers of fashion, here is a post that I made at Elegant Survival News in December, 2011:

Talking Heads Clad Badly and Barely-Shod 

~~Summer Dress and Peep-Toe Shoes in December?!~~Why is the anchorwoman wearing a sleeveless summer dress in cold NYC on December 6th? Are biceps something that female talking heads suddenly find a crying need to bare, even in freezing temperatures? Are they using too much energy, in an effort to keep tropically warm indoors? Is it seasonally appropriate to wear bare-toed shoes on wintry days, as the woman in red is doing, or sandals (the first lady wore sandals at a Kennedy Center gala last weekend) in December? I don’t think so. These women are on a national television show, displaying their irresponsible, energy-inefficient lifestyles before the public, as if to say that a size XXX carbon-footprint is desirable. The rest of us are wearing wool and tweed, living in homes with little-or-no  heat most of the time.
In an Alpine Climate, January: M-J is Dressing in Furry Boots, a Scottish Hand-Made Fair Isle Sweater, and an Austrian Wool Skirt

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©M-J de Mesterton 2011-2017

Elegant Dressing for Travel

Posted on June 20, 2016 at 10:50 PM

 

How to Be the Best-Dressed Woman Anywhere was a Pamphlet Offered by the News, Now Known as the New York Daily News.

The emphasis is on simplicity and modesty of dress with an eye to packing lightly, as well as on respecting local traditions in foreign countries. Bare arms, shorts and short skirts are not welcome in primarily Muslim locations; shoes must not be worn in mosques; large silk scarves can enhance a plain and versatile frock, while allowing one to cover her head in a church or other religious environment. In this pamphlet, there is advice on what to pack that is still timely; wearing gloves and hats is not outdated by rather extremely practical and healthy while on a trip or going out in one's hometown. Click on my images to attain maximum size for ease of reading these fine old pages. ~~M-J


See M-J's Anecdote at the Bottom of these Instructive Images

CLICK ON ANY OF THESE IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM FOR EASIER READING


 UPDATE FROM M-J, JUNE 2016
A personal note on dressing appropriately for particular locales: many years ago as I was driving coast-to-coast, I stopped at an ostrich ranch in Wyoming that offered horseback riding. Because I had packed my English riding clothes and helmet, I wore them. As I walked into their tack shack/watering hole, a little old man looked up at me quizzically and asked, rather shakily, "What ARE you, MA-AM?" Which reminded me of the following scene from Roger Moore's James Bond flick, "Live and Let Die"--watch it till the end, when Sheriff J. W. Pepper looks at Englishman James Bond and asks a similar question in his inimitable style.  Sheriff J.W. Pepper and James Bond



Of course, I explained that I was wearing English riding tack. Mr Little Old Man still looked a bit puzzled, having had no exposure to that sort of thing in the Wild West, but he did stop trembling. Important to wear what is appropriate for the area that you are visiting. I know there will always be boorish, insensitive louts who never consider others, like the time I visited a centuries-old monastery in Cyprus and actually witnessed a shirtless tourist wearing nothing but "Speedo" swim-trunks below his bulging midsection. Come to think of it, that's a situation that also calls to mind "Live and Let Die"! ©M-J de Mesterton, 2016

Divinity in the Details

Posted on July 2, 2015 at 5:40 PM

"To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization."

Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

Caring for Clothing

Posted on June 12, 2015 at 11:55 AM

Elegant Clothing Can Last for Decades If You Care for It Properly





Elegant Robe

Posted on February 6, 2015 at 12:35 PM


A few years before Facebook, I photographed myself in an elegant robe made of black velvet with white satin trim. It was the sort of thing in which one would not be embarrassed to be seen on an impromptu basis--answering the door to package deliveries, for example. I miss that old robe, but I still have my silk one by Sulka as a consolation.

©M-J de Mesterton 2015


Wellness Update

Posted on July 3, 2014 at 6:20 PM

Stay in Good Health: Cover Up Your Skin This Summer, Use Natural Antibiotics Such as Oil of Oregano and an Olive Leaf Supplement, and Eat Your Vegetables~~M-J Recommended Actions and Anti-Viral Foods to Stay in Good Health: Cover Up Your Skin This Summer, Use Natural Antibiotics Such as Raw Ginger, Hot Peppers, Oil of Oregano and an Olive Leaf Supplement, then Eat Your Vegetables~~M-J

With ill people travelling 'round the U.S. and internationally on aeroplanes, you would be wise to wear gloves and even surgical masks while flying. Carry oil of oregano for surface and internal infections, and take olive leaf capsules daily.

This alert is relevant indefinitely, because adequate measures are not being taken to mitigate these modern-day plagues. MRSA (a flesh-eating virus) is on the rise, as are antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis, rubella/measles, chickenpox/shingles, mites, Swine flu, ebola, pertussis/whooping cough and MERS (a deadly respiratory infection). 

It is better to be safe than sorry, and wearing gloves is just one essential component of dressing in the traditional manner. People will also understand when you protect yourself by wearing a surgical mask on the plane, where pathogen-laced air is recycled and breathed by everyone, causing what are known as community-acquired diseases. Stay healthy and look great doing it. Many of these current scourges are incurable.... @M-J de Mesterton, Elegant Survival News 2014

Elegant Lady's Boudoir

Posted on June 29, 2014 at 1:15 PM


Visit the Elegant Lady's Boudoir at Elegant Survival

Respect the Host-Culture

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 3:00 PM

I was visiting a landmark monastery in Cyprus when I saw a chunky male tourist from Russia wearing a Speedo swimming costume and nothing else.  That was probably the most blatant example of tourists disrespecting the local culture that I have ever witnessed--it was tantamount to wearing shoes into the Hala Sultan Tekke in nearby Larnaca. 

Recently, the people of Qatar have been insulted by and concerned about similar breaches of etiquette in their small country by foreigners. Here is a piece about the local government's measures to stem the rising tide of disrespectful dress by tourists:

Hosts for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar, have begun plans for the hosting of the tournament, and this includes control of tourist behavior.

The country has begun the Reflect Your Respect campaign, which aims to inform tourists how to dress when coming to the Middle Eastern country.

A flier demonstrating the kind of clothing that Qatar’s Islamic Culture Centre wants tourists to keep at home has big X’s under diagrams showing a woman in a sundress, a woman in a sleeveless top and shorts, and a man in a tank top and shorts. A picture of a ladies’ room-style cartoon woman dressed in a short-sleeve shirt and pants – or are they leggings? – also has a big X beneath it.

“If you are in Qatar, you are one of us,” the flier reads. “Help us preserve Qatar’s culture and values. Please dress modestly in public places.”

Qatar has launched previous initiatives to educate foreigners on dress codes, The Independent said.

“The amount of immodest clothing is growing in public places, especially shopping malls,” Nasser al-Maliki, the Islamic Culture Centre’s public relations chief, told Gulf News. “Such foreign behavior conflicts with our traditions. We do not want our kids to be exposed to it or learn from it.”

The campaign extends to a new multi-billion dollar airport in the Qatari capital of Doha, where Qatar Airways moved all its operations on Tuesday.

“Qatar is an Islamic state and being respectful to its culture will help you enjoy your stay,” says a list of “helpful tips” offered at the airport. It says women should dress modestly and men “should not be shirt-less in public,” and advises visitors that “public displays of affection and intimacy are strongly discouraged.”

~~Agencies/Canadajournal

M-J Says: See my Article about Being the Best-Dressed Woman Anywhere You Go in the World


 


M-J: Folly of Following Fashion

Posted on May 18, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Quod Erat Demonstrandum

Since 2006, I have been writing about the sort of misguided clothing-choice pictured in this photograph. Garments that only rise to that area just above the groin cause both the grotesque "Muffin-Top" and the risible anomaly known as "Plumber's Crack", yet every year, THEY'RE BA-ACK! Resist falling into fashion-victimhood, and stop risking your pants falling down. Wear your pants, trousers and skirts up at the waist,

and you will not look this idiotic. SIMPLE, isn't it?

©M-J de Mesterton 2012

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Where Is the Waist? Editorial by M-J de Mesterton

Posted on September 14, 2010 at 1:29 PM     

Where is the waist? That's what I wonder every time I look at photos of the newest "fashions." What is new about the same old tragic clothing-concepts bobbing up again, masquerading as innovative? For the past ten years, pants and skirts have consistently been manufactured without even coming close to the waist, yet they are touted as the "latest." To paraphrase General Honoré of Louisiana, someone's "stuck on stupid." I thought last spring that the tide of bad clothes was turning, but having perused some catalogues this month, it is apparent that clothing designers are still denying their customers ample fabric to cover their "plumber's cracks." Snide cracks about "mom jeans" and thoroughly ignorant comments calling anything that indeed does come just up to the natural waist "high-waisted" are still being heard and read by those of us who actually remember where the waist is located on the human corpus: the place for belts, sashes, snaps and buttons is an inch or two above the navel, depending upon one's height. The designer of the human body gave us the waist as an elegant way of keeping our pants, skirts and trousers from falling down; also to enhance our corporeal proportions. The true waist never comes below the navel, and it certainly cannot be found two inches above one's crotch. Garments are falling down from where they rest on the hips, and the fashion world has insisted on staying down in the gutter after what seems to be a devastating, permanent fall from elegant, figure-enhancing style. Fashion-victims are afraid now to go against the hideous dictum that you must wear your clothes no higher than the hip. This is a big mistake, because if one follows the lines of his or her body, they will see that clothes descending from the waist lengthen the legs, while clothes that only come up to the hips turn even the slimmest among us into pot-bellied, short and sloppy -looking people who would have been laughed-at throughout the previous decades and centuries. Wearing six-inch heels to compensate for the bad deeds done to your figure by stingy clothing manufacturers and designers does nothing but make one look even sillier. Extra-high heels will damage both your feet and back, and will not give back the height robbed from you by idiotic torso-stretching trousers and skirts. For men, extra-long trousers do not visually lengthen your legs; rather, they make you look dumpy. The fail-safe, time-tested method of developing real glamour and style is to dress in natural, luxurious cloths and fabrics from the waist-down; wear two-to-three inch heels if you are a woman, and keep your trousers from heaping into a puddle on top of your shoes if you are a man. And don't forget the stockings and socks. No one will notice that you are not blindly and self-destructively following bad fashion. But, they will wonder why on earth you look so good, while their trousers are slipping into the mire together with all sense of style. ©M-J de Mesterton 2010


 



"Fashion" Statement by Hutton

Posted on May 17, 2014 at 6:50 PM


Echoing one of Elegant Survival's long-time themes in her original style, Lauren Hutton explained lately why she, too, has always eschewed "fashion". Personally, I prefer "style", and Ms Hutton certainly has fearless personal style!

~~M-J


Walking Stick, a Survival Tool

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Black Tie Guide

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 11:10 AM

How to Wear Black Tie,

by Antonio Centeno, the founder of Real Men Real Style

Double-Breasted Suit

Posted on November 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Clothing-Designers Get Serious

Posted on October 21, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Apparently, the trend of clogging up fashion shows with "celebrities" is waning.

Lynne McCrossan explains in ARE CELEBS OUT of FASHION?

Clothing Care, Courtesy of Monsieur Francois

Posted on August 3, 2013 at 1:55 PM

 CLOTHING CARE TIPS 

Implementing some of the following procedures will go a long way in helping you protect and extend the life of your garments: 

Dry clean your garments sparingly. Frequent cleanings can actually cause your garments to prematurely wear because of the solvents and heat that are used in the dry cleaning process. Consider dry cleaning only when necessary or, at the end of the season before storing. After cleaning, garments should be removed from the plastic bags and aired. 

Limit the use of fabric softeners. They contain additives that stick to your clothing to make them feel softer. Unfortunately, frequent usage of these softeners will also compromise the fabric's absorbency and make them less breathable. 

Use padded or shaped hangers as they are more gentle on your garments than wire ones. Uncoated wire hangers may also rust and stain your clothes.

 Avoid hanging your coats and jackets on racks or hooks, which may cause the neck areas to stretch out of shape. 

Give your wool garments a day's rest between wearings, allowing them to shed wrinkles and return to their original shape. 

Fold knitted garments instead of hanging them, to prevent distortion or stretching. 

Brush your garments regularly and thoroughly to refresh  them, removing any soil, hair, etc. Use a slightly damp sponge or cloth on knits and finer fabrics. 

Always read the label on your garment for specific washing-instructions. 

Allow deodorants and antiperspirants to thoroughly dry before you dress. Also, consider using dress-shields to your garments to protect them against excessive perspiration, which can weaken certain fabrics. 

All garments should be either laundered or dry cleaned prior to storage. This step is not only essential, but will prevent attracting moths. 

Never store your jackets or garments in plastic bags. They create limited air flow which may trap moisture and cause mildew to form. Plastic bags may even cause leathers and suedes to dry out. Use canvas or cloth bags instead. 

Select a storage area carefully, avoiding those with high temperatures and/or high humidity. 

To revive your clothes when you have removed them from storage: first air out the garments thoroughly and then either brush them and/or lightly pass a garment steamer over them to remove any wrinkles or creases and to perk them up. Air the clothes thoroughly after these procedures, and before putting them to your closet.

~~Monsieur François, Townline Tailors of Vancouver, British Columbia