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Fashion Fridays

 

 

 

IN 2014 THIS BLOG WILL BE…WELL WHEN I GET AROUND TO IT…

FRIDAY OCTOBER 24TH

Couldn’t resist this – and nor should you if you have the opportunity to see JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER’S exhibition, currently on in Melbourne at the NGV.

I am lucky enough to own a couple of his ready to wears (cheap on sale at New York’s Century Twenty One) and they are actually wearable…unlike some of these, but those on display truly are works of art…

You even get to have your very own Anna Wintour moment in the front row of a pretend fashion show. Can I tick that off my bucket list now?

Despite looking totally authentic, no animals died (well I don’t think so) in the making of the leopard skin number…up close they are tiny beads/sequins. Absolutely stunning!

Oh, and the mannequins have faces beamed onto them that move the man himself talks to you…

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FRIDAY 17TH JANUARY

Shopping in Paris

I had to complete the set. Rome in April last year, New York pre-Christmas, London in the Christmas- New Year hiatus and now as our vacation (so called in the USA and I have been practising my French here and vacances is more like the Americans than out holiday) ends…Paris.

 

I have shopped in Paris before, many times, but I have to confess I have yet to get a handle on it. The excuse used to be that they didn’t speak English or understand my bad, Australian accented French. But now all the Parisians speak English and while I would like to (and need) the practice, I can’t put them through the agony. So no excuses as to not knowing the price, where to get the forms for the tax return (if you can bear the queues at the airport) and I have been coming here too long to say I don’t know where to go. But truly I don’t.

I have walked the streets where you have to push a bell to enter the hallowed halls of the Couture houses, even plucked the nerve to push them, enter, and pretend that three costumes only on the rack are going to be enough for me to drool over and get the cheque book out for. These items don’t have price tags and Madame and I both know I would pass out if she told me. It’s not that I don’t have genuine Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, Galliano and Versace (though I have more of their perfume than their clothes) but I have their ready to wear variety. I am, like most of the world, not on the list to sit next to the current Vogue editor or Anna Wintour , Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paultrow at the Season’s show.

 

I have on previous trips (the times when the sales are not on; there are regimented times for these and probably rules about how much they are allowed to discount. France is the country of red tape and maximum benefit for the shop stewards rather than the shopper) decided Galleries Layfette has been too expensive and searched for something else. I have found shopping centres, one at least which was positively basic and ordinaire and not selling anything that the Parisienne women I saw were wearing. I also found somewhere underground (Les Halles) where I might find things my children would wear (and that I could afford).

But today I thought I would return to Galleries Layfette. I mean the map has them all over it, the only thing I can locate without reading glasses though I am familiar enough with Paris that this is where me feet lead me, no matter which new arrondissment my husband thinks we need to try out a new hotel in. Me, I’d choose Esmeralda opposite Notre Dame on the left bank. Quaint, poet sized over priced rooms but what the hell. It’s Paris. I’ve yet to have a room I could swing a cat in. Not that I would but I often end up with cat pictures, clocks, and ornaments from the one shop for cute things I would highly recommend, in fact several shops in one street, the only street really, on the island you get to from Notre Dame, near also the bridge with all the locks on it left my lovers. Another overpriced too small hotel there I adore too; Deux Isles.

So Galeries Layfayette. On par size wise with Bloomingdales, smaller than Macy’s and larger than Liberty, and glitzier than any of these, at sales time it’s akin to feeling like you are in the middle of a herd of bison at mating time. Not pretty. I say bison because you can hear the Americans shouting directions over each other, but I have been away from Australia long enough that it is their accents that I pick out and that grate. Do I really sound like that? And they are hopping around a plenty. One rather imagines that the French know better, that there is somewhere else they go and get the real the real bargains.

It is day four of the sales (soldes). Everything is open on Sunday for this very reason. My husband has decided a hotel (called L’Hotel) new street in the sixth, and I have to waste several moments in it. However small it is exquisite in leopard skin (matches my hat, gloves and lingerie…) and they are incredibly accommodating. They have just the restaurant for us and send us off with a map. We are distant enough from the tourist hub that when we have oysters (the only thing on the menu and in a shop the size of a postage stamp) we are surrounded by locals (including a young group who had perhaps started the day in Amsterdam if you get my meaning…) and the oysters are excellent and the Chablis crisp and big the way I like it. But GF is looking a long way away…

Then I happen on some streets off Bvld St Germaine, all with Soldes signs and excited French women. I go in. I could take virtually anything. Exactly the stuff I like, one size it seems- mine. The prices are…bloody brilliant. I arrived in New York on carry-on and left that way because the kids took the extra suitcase home. London wasn’t a problem because we were on the Eurostar. Tomorrow returning? Okay I will have to check luggage and it’s time for another Camino (planning the next one to Rome) to remind me I don’t need so many clothes.

 

FRIDAY JANUARY 10TH

Shopping in London

It’s January 3rd and the Christmas decorations are still up and it’s grey, a bit dreary and raining. It is London after all. But I have to be honest, it was a crisp clear sky yesterday and I was just in New York and though there was a heat wave there for a few days, when it was cold it was colder than London currently is. The subway is a lot cheaper than the underground though, so if you can’t walk because of the weather then the pounds start disappearing (the paper ones, not the ones from too much plum pudding…eve the Indian restaurant here had plum pudding for dessert, albeit with yoghurt!). Sadly the Aussie dollar isn’t as strong as when I was last here so the 1400€ (two and a half thousand dollars, maybe two thousand American) camel cashmere coat in Harrods was just going to have to stay there for someone else. Wasn’t it?

 

I have had a bit of a hankering for a camel cashmere for a couple of years. In New York I bought a bargain Tommy Hilfinger dress and then had to buy the faun boots, and the longing for the camel cashmere returned. The bargain dress was about to cost a lot more…I couldn’t find anything I liked in New York so I thought London would solve my problem, a camel cashmere is after all one of those British classics. And had I wanted to mortgage the house and sell the car Harrods would have solved it. I thought about this. After all, who would need the house? I could just curl up and sleep in the perfect coat. It would also have been worth it to slam the credit card and see the look on the snooty woman server who almost wrestled the coat off me when I said I wouldn’t take it if it wasn’t on sale (the other side of the rack had 40% off). My husband (bless him) said go for it…my compensation for his book (which would be paying for it) doing better than mine.

So today I resolved to scour Regent St and Liberty and if I couldn’t find an alternative, the 1400€ would be mine. With regards Liberty, there is something kind of quaint about rickety store floors in a Tudor mansion when you are browsing Stella McCartney and Vintage. Even if you have to have elbows out and be a sumo wrestler to make it inside. Maybe there is another entrance rather than the notebook shop but neither I nor half the population of London (and a million tourists) could find it.

I eventually found one that had I not been to Harrods, would have been fine. In Hugo Boss (I hadn’t even known they had a women’s section) and half price sale. Fitted beautifully, the only negative was a belt and the loops it went through that I would have to remove. A quarter of the price. But the Harrods’ coat was calling. So onto the tube I go, battle rain, and then wander lost in Harrods. Where had that coat been only yesterday? There was a panic it had gone (there had only been one my size, but as it was new season I figured there would be more). Finally, after retracing the exact steps, there it was. Only it wasn’t nearly as good as I had remembered it. Not now compared to the Boss one at a quarter of the price.

So back on the tube (another ten dollars but in a good cause…Australians who have been to London can never complain again about Melbourne’s Myki card), through the rain (it had got worse, naturally) and there it was. The Boss camel cashmere coat. Fitting perfectly but…minus a clasp. I wasn’t sure I needed it, and another 10% less later it was mine. So was the top in the shop I had passed, and I was still 900€ in front. Now that is a shopping success ( I love the coat too, better still, and it is perfect with the Tommy Hilfinger bargain…)

 

FRIDAY DECEMBER 27TH

Shopping in New York

New York isn’t the fashion capital of the world. Let’s just get that straight from the start. Far too many international tourists in reeboks and jeans (and denim with denim). And American tourists confused that you can’t wear shorts in New York in December even if you can all year in Florida. But it may be the shopping capital of the world. What the hell, IS the shopping capital of the world.

It was looking bad (or good, depending on perspective) for a while. My 21 year old daughter milling around Century 21 looking like she’d rather be wearing the tutu I had to bribe her to stay in for the photo when she was three, rather than wear anything in this store. This is saying something. Like there are racks and racks of designer label. UK, USA, European. Okay, its true they don’t look great piled on the racks and true also that the really good stuff never makes it here because it gets bought on the first round. But still.

Things got worse when we meandered down 34th (having emerged empty handed from Macys… really??? It’s the biggest department store in the world!) and the only store she got excited about was one which had UGG boots. OMG. They are Australian and considered bogan. We CANNOT come all the way to New York to buy a product from home that we wouldn’t wear there. We did. Okay, not UGG UGG exactly, and it was very cold and we did need something in the snow I suppose.

But then Christmas was pending and I said I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU CAN’T FIND ANYTHING TO WEAR IN ALL OF NEW YORK. NOONE IS GOING TO BE SYMPATHETIC.

This was probably the wrong thing to say. My son announced that their return tickets allowed two items of luggage (they had been allowed only one of the way) and my daughter’s eyes lit up. It was all down hill from there.

Did you know we have Victoria’s Secret in Sydney but not Melbourne? And about two hundred outlets in New York. As there are of Sephora (how did that woman convince me to buy that eyeliner??? I’m not 21 any more….). then there were the clothes. Suddenly everything fitted. Looked good and we couldn’t live without them. But given it was winter here they were also bulky. Like two pairs of full length boots (hell, one were the exact red of my favourite leather coat I got in Rome….), and the sale on the wool dress was amazing.

Now I just have to decide what’s going back to Aus with the kids and what I will need in the UK and France. It’s still cold there…and I am on carry on…

FRIDAY AUGUST 16TH

Ingredients for a Perfect Fancy Dress Party

I have long agonised over this. The right theme, the cocktail recipes, the invitation list. But there always seems to be lots of people who don’t turn up dressed up, only drink water or should be drinking water because they are driving and don’t. To say nothing of the mess after which leaves me thinking was it all worth it?

My daughter’s 21st got close (but I should have drunk more water), but there was still the mess, and though the Tarzans and Janes were gorgeous they froze, and I just can’t get my head around onesies (the all in one outfits that I used to put the kids in to sleep when they were babies. Ok, they were jungle themed but kind of floppy and didn’t do anyone justice.

But then last night (Friday in Perth where I am currently) I went to the perfect cocktail party. Well, only champagne and wine, but really with my alcohol tolerance just as well.

Ingredients?

  1. Not in my home- non mess!
  2. Away at a conference so no one driving!
  3. Theme turned out not important at all. I had been uninspired by ‘Nautical’ and boy, was I shown up! Didn’t think I’d ever go to a fancy dress party where I was underdressed. Pirates, wenches with off the shoulder blouses, corsets and lush feathers and lace, sea witches, bathing beauties from several centuries (worn with Chutzpah!)
  4. I barely knew anyone but hell that didn’t matter. Fun group of friendly people … what else could you wish for?

This was my first Romance Writer’s of Australia Fancy Dress party but I hope it won’t be my last. Next year…well as soon as the theme is announced, I’ll be on it!

And any conference that gives way this many books as well as chocolates, and serves tons of champagne, has my vote!

 

FRIDAY JUNE 14TH

Winter Wardrobes

One of the things I most love about winter (right after snuggling up in a front of a roaring log fire with a good book while the rain is pelting down outside) are the clothes. Coats, hats, scarves gloves: all of these wonderful extras that have no place in the sticky humid summer months. And boots; particularly boots. I have had to move to flats since January because of a back problem and have been through so many of the wretched things, one after another giving me blisters, and while being very “in” still making me moan every time I saw myself in the mirror. They make my feet double in size (I am a standard seven and a half), emphasize my bunions and worse- they just aren’t chic. Maybe Audrey Hepburn (or Carrie Mulligan in current terms, aka Daisy in The Great Gatsby) can look elegant in them, but it doesn’t work for me. Didn’t help my back any either; had the operation anyway after months of suffering.

So−boots. Glorious boots, some of which to my relief, have flat or close to no heels. I suddenly have choice again. The elegant black ankle boots I bought in Scotland, of even the heavy funky faun ones also purchased in the far north of the planet (with a climate like Scotland’s it isn’t a surprise they know something about dressing for the cold. I can only put the kilt down as a female plot to use the breeze to lessen their men’s ardour).

And coats. I am in love with the red trench coat above I bought in a tiny boutique in a Rome street two months ago. It’s warm, classy and even water proof. What’s not to like? On the weekends with the heavy Scottish boots I drag out the clunky brown sheepskin from New York and fantasize about picking my way over new snow in the big apple and jumping over the puddles at the intersections- what I was doing a couple of years ago and plan to be doing again this Christmas.

And gloves. While I get chilblains I seem to have accumulated a vast array of different coloured fingerless gloves. Hot pink and red ones from the Hobart market, dusky yellow a gift from a Woodend girlfriend, black ones that regularly get lost and are replaced and of course the ones that do have a bit that goes over the fingers, bought in Peru, that saw me along the 2000km of the Camino de Santiago.

Right now? There’s a fire and a book so all else is irrelevant. But the sheepskin and boots are there if I need to wander across the misty moors (in my mind) or tackle the more practical bog of Lancefield carefully missing the cowpats. Won’t be any time soon…

FRIDAY APRIL 26TH

Milano & Roma fashion… Yes the Italians Really do Know How to Dress

There is a certain something about clothes shopping in the glitz of Fifth Avenue, and the excitement of finding amongst the stacks of leftovers from the sales, just the perfect fitting Gucci or  Dolce & Gabbano or Versace at a perfect price, in Century Twenty One in New York. Cruising London the excitement is more about the quirkiness of some of their stores (particularly if it isn’t clothes you are after), but now a lot of them have made it around the world, with the exception of the elegance of Liberty and the flash of Harrods (once is enough), there are just too many all familiar chains. Or clothes that are very well English. Tweed isn’t my thing. Paris? Well all those minimalist stores and the prices are rather daunting…

But Italy…?

When I was invited to the Milan and Rome book launches of The Rosie Project (L’amore é un difetto meraviglioso) I was a little worried about my lack of Italian (Italian men are so dark and gorgeous, maybe even as hot as Argentinean men – see Embedded for more details!) – though they are more forgiving of accents compared to the French and in the past waving hands and adding ‘o’s to the end of the French or English equivalent has usually worked eventually( I probably just wore them down). But then I got really worried. Whatever was I going to wear?

Lucky I had just the right number (well several) because even at the train station in Milano (not usually the most salubrious of places) I noticed all the women had perfect eyebrows and I had to run for the tweezers (possibly less of an issue for a blonde but still…). Then as I fell over the line of scooters that everyone seems to ride to work, the stick thin women getting off them in skirts, stockings and high heels, well looked like they’d come to work via the beautician.

Ambling down Manzoni towards the Duomo (I mean how can you shop seriously when you turn around and are dazzled by this amazing bit of architecture?) every shop window just oozed effortless style. The only negative (and so Italian) was that all the women in the street wearing it as effortlessly also had cigarette in hand. Someone seems to have forgotten to tell them it’s so not chic (the French have heard the message, but then maybe the Italians take religion more seriously given the Popes proximity and think it will giving them some protection).

It is raining, which encourages time in the shops. Shame about that. Finding the New York Century Twenty One equivalent makes my day. Unlike New York though it seems my size is not the one left over (the Italians are chic and half-starved despite the pasta & gelato). Anyone for a Large?

But I do find a few Jean Paul Gaultiers and an Italian label I don’t know in brilliant orange and celebrating shoes (how can I say no…and to the pair of shoes too?).

Then we arrive in Rome for five delicious days, all but one holiday. I had vague ideas about a day trip to Florence (it’s only an hour in the train) but our hotel is right next to Pantheon, and well…there are all these amazing shops. Day one I got lost wandering through a maze of cobblestone streets and piazza’s …all full of elegant, yes you guessed it – clothes shops. Amazing number of them for men, the most elegant jackets that I could search for in Melbourne and maybe find one I’d get my husband- here I could take just about them all.

Then Day Two, an amble down the Via Del Corso…magico!!! (Okay this word might be Spanish or a make-up but it really was!). In a long stretch only two chain stores (chain stores are just soooo dispiriting to shop in), one being Zara which had taken over a block (and the world). But everywhere else? Wonderful stores, tiny shops, leather jackets, fabulous window displays … today I take the visa card. I’d better buy a new bag too!

 

FRIDAY APRIL 12TH

The British have a reputation for being a little eccentric. There were the Grouse hunters looking a little like Sherlock Holmes when I was here last year in Yorkshire and now in London…a lobster suit? Okay it was in aid of a book launch (The Rosie Project where hero Don Tillman has a very poor dress sense but does look like Gregory Peck and eats the lobster, not dresses as one). At least the after party was a tad more elegant at the trendy and bustling Wolseley…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 22ND

Writers and Fashion – an Oxymoron?

 

The day hasn’t started well. Or rather it has just started far too early. Arrived in Perth at what seemed like a perfectly reasonable time (time for a cocktail) but things went downhill from there. Cocktails have a habit of that. Really though I blame the time difference. Who would ever have thought a three hour time difference from one side of the country to the other could create such havoc?

I’m a bit disorientated anyway. I am here as an aspiring writer rather than a journalist covering the Perth Writers’ Festival, a gig I may well have got in a former life working for  Coco. In the bar I looked wistfully over at the media camp. You can pick them immediately. Unlike the authors and would be authors who have thin arms and pasty expressions and who enter blinking in the light and looking more disorientated than a three hour time difference would account for, the media have taken over the corner and attracting moths to the flame.

This lot are a mix of TV and print journalists. Remembering now that February is a short month and that therefore my fashion blog is due today (another reason the day hasn’t started well) my mind turns to them. There are the trim elegantly understated self aware ones (the TV journalists) like Jennifer Byrne from First Tuesday Book Club and then the shaggy statement making would be authors who write beautifully and at time scathingly. The authors walk around them carefully. But it’s safe currently, they are in regroup and the pack isn’t going to swarm. Yet. I like shaggy I decided. One of them…well in another life I would have enjoyed his company!

Honestly writers as a group don’t inspire as fashionistas. There are some obvious exceptions. Tara Moss (ex-model) who was photographed with a python around her neck (can’t remember what if anything else she was wearing). Or possibly Lynda La Plante (ex-actress). And Jackie Collins is Joan Collins’s sister so that has to count for something.

But in general? Think middle aged men and women at their typewriters not Hemmingway. In the documentary of romance writers I saw they wore cardigans and slippers. It’s possible that some of them here still are.

I’m being unfair. Anna Funder is here somewhere (she’s doing the closing address). I’m sure she’s sitting in an elegant cocktail bar looking gorgeous (yes you are picking up a small amount of jealousy). Jared Diamond is probably still on the plane but if he is here he’ll have a do not disturb on his door (more than a three hour time to the USA).  He doesn’t need to dress well; he’s an anthropologist. Toni Jordan (writer of Addition) is at the bar and looking decidedly smart and bright eyed with a double gin and Graeme Simsion (new author, of The Rosie Project) with a margarita (features in the questionnaire about his main character at www.therosieproject.com.au – I took the answer to me preferred drink as my second margarita) and ordering martinis is trying to marry business man (previous life) with author. The Tshirt is top range Armani.

So what am I going to wear to the festival today as I plough my way through comedy with Simsion and thrillers with LA Larkin (who I haven’t met but I’m fancying in a trench coat and hat)? Probably the leopard skin number. After all I’m more Tara Moss at heart than any of the others…

FRIDAY JANUARY 25TH

The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor …

I had a friend who relate a story to me once. A woman had come into her antique shop and commented on the (very large) diamond on her finger.

“I was always taught it was crass not wear large jewellery before evening,” the woman reportedly said.

My friend, an angelic faced woman who married well and often (but to be fair earned a good deal in her own right) replied “Oh yes I used to say that before I could afford them too.”

I think she would have got on well with the Duchess of Windsor who reportedly said ‘You can’t be too thin or too rich.”

But when it comes to large (and lot of) jewellery it would be hard to rival the late Duchess of Windsor whose husband gave up the crown for her (but arguably not the jewels). It sounds terribly romantic and I gather Edward was besotted by Mrs Wallis Simpson. But other literature I’ve read (this book here but one) doesn’t necessarily paint this picture and after giving up a kingdom maybe he didn’t have anything else to do but be besotted (other than swan around with Hitler for a while).

Regardless of personal feelings towards either of them (and as I never met them I don’t have any) her jewellery collection was rather stunning. Not much of an emerald fan myself but the engagement ring pictures here was HUGE. Took up most of the distance from knuckle to first joint.  I’m having to supress the urge to say the crass line…but then when this little (well not THAT little, its just in the background in this photo!) number in blue arrived for Christmas, styled as a smaller (more elegant!) version I might have to just hold my tongue…You’re going to have to read Exclusive to find out if it was Jeffrey or Gabriel who gave it to me…

Jewellery is meant to be romantic but finding a man who gets that! I have a girlfriend whose partner once gave her a toilet seat for her birthday (okay it had shells embedded in it BUT really!)

Maybe a Liz Taylor necklace next year??? A girl can dream but in keeping with my antique shop owning friend, I might keep writing in hope to pay a little towards it at least.

 

Jewellery in this blog includes that supplied by Imogene at Roy’s Antiques in Cliftoon Hill and Gillian Hilman design

The Book pictured is by Culme and Rayner

 

 

Friday December 28th

Friday- What to Wear to a New Year’s Eve Party

This may be particularly relevant if your partner fails to get instructions about dress code. Jeffrey and Gabriel don’t consider it important. They always look so God damn gorgeous somewhere just short of black tie and a little more than smart casual, that every woman can’t keep their eyes off them. They don’t seem to understand that we mere mortals need some direction. Naturally I want to be well dressed, but only slightly overdressed. It’s very bad form to go somewhere in a ball gown where everyone else is in jeans and t-shirt (or visa versa) even if they are designer jeans.

Last year it was a private party at people I had never met. We were in Sydney. I’m thinking hot, Harbor views. Except this was indoors and I needed treatment for chilblains afterwards. I think the hostess (a Brit) was trying to recreate London at this time of year.

Many years ago I brought in the New Year in a field in France with our own fire crackers. It was an even greater chilblain moment but at least I was in full ski gear, only a problem when holding the champagne glass. A lot of champagne was wasted on that field. Another evening in Paris was much the same only no champagne on the street after an exorbitant meal on the Champs Elysee (the price doubled this night) and alas no fireworks. Hundreds lined the streets and the Paris government in their infinite wisdom decided no fireworks and not to bother telling anyone.

New Hampshire deep in snow at Mt Washington – cold (we were driving back to New York in the ongoing snowstorm later ) with horse drawn sleighs singing “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” is also there in the memory but it really limits what you can wear because there has to be so many layers if you are traveling between places.

Read about the hotter versions in the Were-devils of Tasmania series!

It has an advantage of being warmer. French friends in a pool after a BBQ of seafood in true Australian style has to be a favorite looking back. Limits what you wear because there’s less required, but there are so many fun flimsy dresses to choose from….and the bikini…

Friday December 21st

Wardrobe Cleanout

It is probably something to do at the end of every season but somehow as the weather is getting warmer here in Aus, it seems a clean out is more in order. I am much less likely to hang on to the coat or winter dress I didn’t wear last season when it makes me hot just looking at it. Trouble is though, when you juggle a life between the two hemispheres you have to remind yourself it really does get cold in New York even if the last winter in Aus did not require brushing the dust off the fur coat (fake of course…).

The rule from the fashionistas is if you didn’t wear it last season, you won’t next. Put in the donate pile.

If the buy was a mistake, a hedonistic loss of reason, a dive into the latest completely mad idea (I am thinking all platform shoes may fit this after nearly breaking an ankle), then this is relatively easy to do. There are other things so much harder to let go of…the first little black handbag dress, the Manolos (which will be enshrined if they become unwearable because I have broken my ankles on the platform shoes), the white denim Sass & Bide jacket I got for a song…

There are positives to keeping everything. Sometime raiding my mother’s wardrobe (she is a hoarder) can be extremely rewarding. It helps being the same size. For retro seventies and eighties parties her wardrobe is better than the local retro shop, largely because she spent so much and quality holds it lines. You still do have to get over the idea of being psychedelic (whoever thought this was a good idea?), “flowing” (hippy really isn’t me) and not so sure about crochet.

So I look at my wardrobe. No crochet or flowing. There is a lot of overflowing however. It looks rather crammed. I have to thin it somehow. Or maybe…I just need a bigger wardrobe. I’ll ask for one for Christmas…

Friday December 14th

Christmas Shopping

What was I thinking?

Firstly it was 32 degrees Celsius (ninety five or so Fahrenheit) in the shade. So I decided to drive into the air-conditioned car park. Fool proof plan. Except the air-conditioning in the car wasn’t working, it had a black roof and though soft top, it is currently stuck on waiting for the part from Germany. First time the Germans have shown considerable inefficiency. Maybe they are snowed in.

Then there are the Christmas road works and the fact that everyone else like me is making a mad dash for the shops before the schools break up (probably the same in New York except for my mother who has ordered everything from Saks and Bloomingdales and will have them all delivered).

Why is it that suddenly no one can drive close to Christmas? Or at least not park?

Having finally made it into the shopping center I immediately want to do all this on-line. On any line anywhere but here. There are wall to wall people. In one shop, one of those that looks like it should be an under two dollar shop and has lots of not much that is of any use, they are three people deep around each shelf. Next door they are lining up for shoulder massages. I can understand why.

I suddenly realize I have no idea what to buy anyone. My girlfriend with the boyfriend in soaps has broken up with him but this might be too much of a reminder. The big book stores are all closed.

Why didn’t I write a list? Okay I probably would have forgotten to bring it, but  I might have remembered something off it…

Then of course most will have to be mailed. How did I forget this minor point? Postal expenses are exhorbitant here and unreliable at the other end any time of year, let alone Christmas. FedEx I guess…

Then I get the vision. It’s a goat and a chicken. Oxfam send them to needy people and a card to the person I have nominated it as their present. Great for all the friends who have everything and more money than me anyway and we can all feel a bit better about the incredible Christmas indulgence.

And for the rest? Amazon! Direct to them. So many great books to choose from!

I start to relax. I sit down and order a wine and start to make out next year’s list of what to do and not do.

1. Do not shop in December under any circumstances (The Boxing Day special may be an exception but I doubt it). If you really have to remember an air conditioend car and don’t wear high heels – my feet are killing me already).

2. Ask your mother if she can shop for you.

3. Consider becoming Jewish/living somewhere Christmas isn’t celebrated.

4. Ask your sister if she can shop for you.

5. Give everyone a cat (Pirate as you can see was less than impressed with being given away but there are lots of animals in shelters who need good homes. But then that was how they ended there- Animals aren’t just for Christmas!

6. Tell everyone in Aus you’re in New York or UK and visa versa. Might decrease the Christmas Day family traumas too…

 

I notice how many (80% I calculated) of the stores are aimed at 15-35 year old women and most of them are clothes. Excellent. I’m set for the afternoon. Just a little indulgence…

 

Friday December 7th

Slipping in to Something More Comfortable…

From Simone:

It evokes such wonderful images but there are so few opportunities to use the line…even if you’re an erotic romance writer it is a tad cliché. But to use it in real life (and writing erotic romance real life and the stories do sometimes blur) you need to be sure to actually have something to slip in to!

In my latest book, a mainstream love story, the heroine is 45 so when she slips into something more comfortable she has to ensure she puts her hands over her head (she washes her hair to help believability) to get gravity to aid her cause. But luckily in the erotic romance Stephanie (of the Stephanie Beauman series) is 28-30 and doesn’t have the gravity problem yet which is probably just as well because she has quite a few encounters! She slips into bodices and stocking (cover of Embedded), down to her underwear (Exposé) and a little black number (Exclusive).

In Were-Devils’ Curse Becc isn’t really a slip into something more comfortable person (and besides Tassie is cold, though Jesse and Jarrod warm her up in front of a fire) and in Were-Devils’ Revenge Gabriella is on a tropical resort island so a bikini…or swimming naked…seems more appropriate.

But for me (okay and Stephanie in Exclusive when sharing the penthouse with Jeffrey, really is thinking of Barbara Stanwyck and something long white and silky…oh she so had class!

Friday November 30th

The Language of Jewellery

Jewellery, and I’m talking special items here, not the plastic earrings from the market, is one of those intensely personal things. It says something about you, but it also says if you’re listening, something to you. There is of course the meanings assigned to some stones- pearls I was told meant tears (and yes the relationship with the man who bought me my one and only long since lost set of pearls ended in tears). There is also the months of the year and their assigned stone and the wedding anniversaries.

I have a friend who was convinced that jewellery took something on from the owner, and I confess I have a couple of items which seem to emit a vibe. But the medallion was one I was told the Czar gave to his troops and we all know how well that ended so I’m certain it’s all psychological on my part! The other item is a heavy snake ring and it’s probably the sheer weight of it that makes me so aware of it! But my friend “reads” rings­−she read my engagement ring (see below, and if you want to know whether it was from Jeffrey of Gabriel you’ll have to read Exclusive to find out!) and said I was destined for happiness and success, so when she offered to read another friends who was having a bad time I thought whatever the good oil was would cheer her up.

Beware of ring readers! She said this ring was a ring from a really unhappy marriage (okay, she was right but it seemed a little harsh). My friend left their partner the next day!!! I’m not sure what happened to the ring…

Friday November 23rd

Sydney Fashion Statements

It’s Sydney and summer is coming. Which means it’s mild and pleasant and you want to soak in the sun (not too hot, so you don’t get too many concerned stares or frank glares from those slip slop slap people crusading against melanomas) and get those Vitamin D levels up. In Brisbane you’re already dashing for shade and freezing indoors and in Melbourne, well you need ready access to all of the wardrobe at all times, with plenty of layers.

I have a cocktail party –everyone seems to have one, something to do with getting in before Christmas but it’s not even December−but one of those ones that I have to go straight to from dinner after, so decisions decisions…really I think there is somewhat of the New York edginess to Sydney which probably accounts for why I feel so comfortable here. So I’ll probably wear the orange number I got in the Time Warner center when I was there in June. Orange is the color everywhere (even in black focused Melbourne it can be spotted). The trouble with travelling so much is that the orange swatch watch that goes so well with it is…well somewhere else.

We eat at Flying Fish, a restaurant down the end of a wharf facing the Harbor Bridge with the reputation for great food at ridiculous prices. Actually the seafood tasting menu wasn’t that expensive and it was fabulous. The waiters were remarkably casual and pleasant. Maybe not New York after all.

But what were people wearing? Well it was hard to get excited about any fashion statements being made here. The cocktail party was elegant and understated, but once out in the real world, even an expensive restaurant (that did divine blackberry and lemongrass margaritas incidentally) then Aussie casual prevailed.

The table by the window had a short dark haired woman that looked straight out of the 1950’s with her wide belt and flared skirt. Must have been watching Mad Men. But she did look neat. On the other hand the large woman in the shortest baby doll dress I had ever seen needed to take stock. The man behind her certainly did when she bent over. He looked like he was going to pass out.

 

 

Friday November 16th

Book Covers-What Should the Heroine Wear?

Or not wear…

I have now five book cover posters of Simone Sinna’s erotica on my wall. Surrounding a large poster of Rudolph Valentino dressed as a sheik staring into the eyes of his heroine. This heroine is wearing a good deal more than “Stephanie” in the three Stephanie Beauman covers (Embedded, Exposé & Exclusive. Becc in Were-Devils’ Curse is a little over dressed in a long sleeved white shirt (but the two bare chested men make up for this). In Were-Devils’ Revenge Gabriella is more in keeping with the Beauman series.

So how do they decide what the cover girl wears? This is a job I could get into (imagine putting it down on your entry visa coming into the USA. Job: dresser for the sexy cover girls and guys on erotica).

The author certainly puts in their ideas and are allowed to have a “definitely do not want” specification. You get to describe the heroine and hero(es). This seems to be loosely adhered to (though Gabriella in the book has dark red hair and on the cover she’s brunette). They are meant to be romance and erotica, so this heads the attire towards the light on. Negligees (Were-Devils’ Revenge and Exclusive) or underwear (Embedded, Exposé). I have this fantasy that there is a studio attached to Siren where they do the photos and attached to it is an ENORMOUS wardrobe with every combination and possibility of every negligee, corset and stocking pair ever designed, with a few historical variations for the period books. In this fantasy I get lost there. Drift through aisles of  black lace, flimsy red fluff and white satin. Though none of the heroines seemed to have shoes (we can’t see their feet) in my fantasy there is a shoe section as well. Lots of Manolo Blaniks and Jimmy Choos. Killer heels, strappy numbers and over the knee boots.

The men’s section? Pretty small. But looking at Valentino maybe they do have the sheiks head gear and I’m a sucker for long black boots and a long black coat…

Friday November 9th

What to Wear−A Cocktail Party at the Zoo

It was to raise money for a good cause, and we got to hear the very charming and amusing Michael Palin speak about fish (as in one called Wanda), elephants and Brazil, the latter the topic of his latest book and BBC series. We also got to buy fluffy soft toys, and participate in the auction. Gabriel (Embedded & Exclusive) didn’t buy the most entertaining item- dinner (at a top restaurant) with two zoo keepers, both 30ish and 6ft 3in. And very cute…actually given there was a very impassioned talk about the pending extinction of the Tasmanian Devil by the Zoo’s CEO then I rather think it should have been Simone buying the night out…

It was hard not to look at these two hunks and think of Lincoln and Kael, the heroes in the third of the Were-Devils of Tasmania series… Mac and Mitch who are in Were-Devils’ Revenge out on December 3rd at Siren are more physical and very well built…these two were bright and cute and hunky with a definite sense of humour. Maybe I should have let Gabriel…oh well too late now.

So back to the question- what to wear? I wasn’t given a dress code and hadn’t ever been to a cocktail party in the zoo grounds (surrounded initially by Meerkats, they are soooo cute). The weather in true Melbourne style was variable. Not a night for a strapless number unless you had layers and then, what’s the point? Then there’s always the possibility of being outrageous. Going as Jane for instance (of Tarzan fame).

The crew seemed to have outrageous under wraps. The band with the python around the bassoon and safari outfits (possibly the only good use of a Safari outfit) and Tarzan and Jane with sprayed on outfits (this is an exaggeration) at least didn’t use much paint or much to the imagination. The celebrity chefs at least looked like chefs and Michael Palin was neat casual.

We did have one dinner suit, half the men in open necks and half with ties. The women? Ranged from the frock from Target (ugh) to elegant and understated. No ball gowns- the zoo doesn’t really lend itself to that. Despite being Melbourne Cup week, no hats either.

That’s me in the little black number…

Myself? Little black numbers (and black is Melbourne’s colour) come into their own on an occasion like this. A little white blouse underneath to pick the colour up, an elegant gold line in the tapering to the shin and some gold Victorian earrings (thanks to Katherine at Roys’Antiques in Clifton Hill) and the only other thing a girl needs is a glass of champagne…

 

 

(Okay it isn’t really me I’m a blonde. Simone maybe??? It’s out December 3rd at Siren!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday November 2nd

Halloween Costumes, Cakes and G-strings  from Simone

Okay I was thinking I would miss not being in New York this year for their fabulous Halloween parade (though I nearly got crushed in the last one) but given Sandy I have reassessed and while Australians Halloween is pretty tame, probably better under the circumstances. Actually Halloween doesn’t exist. We did get a couple of kids asking for chocolate but it was because they watch too much TV and forgot where they lived.

However, it doesn’t mean that one can’t be inspired in some ways. Goth? I have the right hair and there are some great black outfits (such a Melbourne colour) but it’s starting to make me look old. Or maybe that’s my husband’s writing class. He read an excerpt out of a work in progress, about middle aged (40’s) couple who had a wild affair in their twenties and reconnect. She is a 45 year old slim attractive ex actress. The class, including an older woman and a 45ish year old female teacher refused to believe that any woman over 40 would wear a G string.

I am only just able to write about it- still speechless. What do they do/think women over 40 do? Just give up and wear granny pants and start knitting? I think I started wearing a G string well into my thirties. There are still some very sexy older women including a lot of actresses (hence making this 45 year old G string negligee wearing actress even more plausible) and the rest of us who still get occasional whistles and appreciation from men in our age range who don’t feel the need to pretend they are 23. I go to the gym. There are women there with G strings, all ages.  Research shows that even well into their fifties, women enjoy sex and being sexy (and doing all the associated things) when they have a new relationship, and it is the 40 and 50 year olds (if not 60’s) that keep the swingers clubs alive. I checked one out (purely research). They really do exist.

Okay I’m feeling a lot better now. So now, no Goth. I’m currently writing the final of the Were-Devils of Tasmania series and the heroine is a female were-devil (I’ve had the males up to now).  So I’m tempted. But okay I’m getting old, instead of going out dressed up I had much more fun making green icing and helping my daughter with Halloween cakes…check ‘em out! Note in particular the top central one – a were-devil not were-wolf as it has white steaks and yellow-brown eyes! Check out Were-Devil’s curse on www.bookstrand.com/simone-sinna or more details and reviews under books on this website

 

 

Friday October 26th

Swimsuits- To Be or Not to Bikini…

With spring has come some wonderful warm weather and like people everywhere anxious to cast off the memory of winter, any sunshine and off comes the tops and the parks and beaches start to fill with people trying to tan up before summer. Or for those who have heard the Slip Slop Slap message, a quick top up of their vitamin D levels. Australia might have higher skin cancer rates than Iceland and Scandinavia but they have lower depression rates.

So what does one wear to the beach or sit by the pool in? Hat and long sleeves? A swim suit and block out?

My observation suggests that the desire to be a color other than white heads people to the latter with a careful (or not so careful in the French and Italian Riviera) juggling of thirty plus alternating with five plus and the occasional coconut oil fry up. Girls – well just want to be girls. In France I went swimming in the Riviera with Jean-Luc (read Exclusive – he’s a hot French Formula One driver) and the women with me were golden brown (from frying, not natural pigment alone) and were wearing the itsy bitsy bikinis that their stick thin bodies did more than justice to.

But what if you’re white or/and let’s say don’t have a BMI under 25?

In the States, and probably Australia, I don’t think anyone looks in the mirror. Or they do through rose colored glasses. Brits worry about their butts, Aussies look at their abdomens and Americans? Well like everything else, love me as I am. Earlier this week a New York student’s video of her generous proportions went viral and led to a debate on body image. It’s a tough one- we need to accept who we are and shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of weight or judge on body shape, but we also have to be realistic and try to eat healthily and be a BMI 18-25 (very low is not better than very high health wise!). Otherwise our health and the health dollar will suffer.

Me? Well right now I’m too busy to go to the beach and I don’t really like sand. A quick dip in the pool and at the moment it’s too cool to hang around wet. Saves worrying. But I am quite certain wine has less calories than beer…

Friday October19th

How to Manage When Overdressed

This sadly happens more often than it should. We’re meant to learn from our mistakes, right? You’d reckon wouldn’t you?

The first time was at a friend’s wedding. I was maybe twenty, she was nineteen. No, she wasn’t pregnant. I was probably behaving badly. Her parents had this picture of me as trouble. You know, you get labelled and you move to fit it? Well when you’re old or mature enough not to I guess you don’t but I was neither. So trouble arrived. My friend was cool though I have to say her husband has forever looked at me as though I might burst out into a Lambada at any moment. For those of you who remember the Lambada, no, I wasn’t in a very short skirt. More Mortisha Adams or actually Barbie in the tight dress that flared at the bottom and you could only shuffle in.

Next time? Well they blur. I was mostly with a gay (male) friend and it didn’t matter. I mean someone gives you a bright yellow Versace, you have to find somewhere to wear it, right? So I picked a gay bar where a Mel Gibson (of thirty years ago) look alike was doing a strip tease on the bar. To say nothing of the tearooms the following weekend. Okay. The eighty something year old proprietor nearly ran into the wall after being blinded.

The most recent? Mmm well it would be good to say hasn’t happened in years but…well we were going to a cocktail party in London and Jeffrey said his ex might be there. It’s not as if I think he’s going to run off with her or anything, it must be just something about the word ‘ex’ that induces bad behaviour. I forgot the British are well, shall we say, understated? I’m sure they were just muttering “well what do expect from someone from New York” or maybe in the eye roll was the implicit American of course.

What the hell. Jeffrey and I are all over the pages of the papers not the ex. And if there wasn’t much material in this little sensation, well they charged by what was missing rather than what was there. My friend said it best when someone said to her that it was so uncultured to wear big diamonds in the morning. My friend replied:

“That’s what I used to say before I could afford them.”

Stephanie appears in the Stephanie Beauman series, Embedded, Expose and Exclusive as an undercover reporter. Available at Bookstrand and Amazon.

Friday October 12th

Simone and Socks

It’s very hard to get excited about socks. Despite stores devoted almost entirely to them, a colorful array, the diversity of short, very short, long, over the knee, bushwalking, boot or shoe socks and the possibilities of stocking, wool, cotton or polyester, at the end of the day, a sock is a sock. It goes on your feet and the only people that get excited about feet are masseurs and podiatrists and usually in a negative way. The rest of us ignore them until they give us problems. The only time I’ve ever paid them much attention was walking the Camino de Santiago (see Exposé) and I had to wash socks every night in order to avoid blisters (it worked). The outdoor walking socks were great too, though hard to dry if there wasn’t a heater at night and it rained all day. This was common on the recent Coast to Coast walk in England.

Despite all these sock varieties and possibilities and shops devoted to the humble foot, there is yet to be a sock that is fashionable for women. Over the knee? I don’t think so. I don’t think Stephanie (Embedded, Exposé &Exclusive) ever admits to wearing them but as she wears jeans I guess she wears those stocking-boot socks. Not wearing them is not cool either. I had a boss once who wore Italian suits and shoes without socks because he thought it made him appear European. It did, but not in the way he was aiming for. Peasants (I’m thinking southern Italy) probably have smelly feet too after a day of picking olives.

Becc on the other hand (Were-Devils’ Curse) almost certainly does. Sensible ones for field work in the wilds of Tasmania. Though with two hot men to herself she doesn’t have them on often…

And my socks? Well the one thing you can guarantee about socks is that they’ll go missing. One only. Washing machines eat them with a frightening veracity (someone needs to write a story called the Abominable Washing Machine or Revenge of the Sock). Dryers accept them demurely and perform magic tricks defying science. No matter how many you buy the same you won’t end up with two that match. And just as you give up and throw the one out, its partner will turn up. Most recently carefully attached to a new top that had so much static all the ones of each pair were lined along it. Unfortunately it was new because I had bought it in the Northern hemisphere and by the time the temperature was right to wear it down south…I’d thrown the other halves out. It’s not even that the excuse to go sock buying is one I can greet with joy. Maybe I need to do sock buying online. In bulk.

Friday October 5th

Paris Fashion

Fashion just can’t be ignored in Paris. I’m not talking about the shows, which certainly ensure fashion is forefront, whether you are at them in the front row or seeing the latest Jean Paul Gaultier splashed across the newspapers, but rather the streets, the cafes and restaurants. We need to separate first the locals however from the tourists, and in September while the July onslaught of Americans has died down there are enough hints of good weather for the diehards to still be here. Tourists never dress well, or at least tourists with a capital T do not. Those who are here on business or whose familiarity with Paris is such that they drop the visit into conversation without thinking, dress well enough, sometimes too well, thinking that the true Parsiennes are elegant and that they must wear Labels.

Parisiennes are elegant, but in an understated way that is hard to emulate. They don’t wear Labels. They don’t dress to look chic – they just are! While there may be a Label involved, they will be certain that the label doesn’t show (and remove it if it does). Men can get away with loafers and a casually flung scarf and not be gay. They will have one expensive item paired with the tried and true from last seasons. They will have found the Bargain that looks just like the real thing and smile whimsically when you ask if it is.

Even the older lady that nearly knocked me over on her bicycle looked impeccable. The orange stripes on her bag, on her shoulder, matched the bars of the bike.

 

In a top Paris restaurant you are just as likely to find the men in T-shirts as you are a suit. There isn’t the stuffiness found elsewhere in the world, certainly not that which I found in England, where the level of stuffiness of the clubs is ‘please don’t come if you don’t have a Rolex’ (see Exclusive for my run in with one particular club. Jeffrey I have to say though, perhaps because he didn’t come from money, has pretty much perfected the understated elegance. He does have a Rolex though).

Friday 28th September

Fashion for Grouse Shooters

I’d like to start off by making it very clear. I’m a New Yorker. We don’t have Grouse so I don’t shoot them. Despite many Americans affair with fire arms, I am not one of them. However I happened to be in North Yorkshire and was invited to a Grouse shoot. I immediately imagined standing on the lawn of a fine establishment probably built before the Puritans arrived in the USA, sipping sherry (probably horribly sweet) and talking about the weather and the mess the House of Lords was in, while the men wandered around in the next meadow peering into bushes and shaking their heads ruefully. I was wrong.

Firstly it starts off far too early to be having sherry. It involves SUV’s bumping down old railway lines, dogs, muddy paths between heather with the last blush of pink and then a lot of banging. There is a local hatchery that churns out 20,000 birds a year for this ‘sport’. As there were a lot of slow birds (who have a wonderful warble) I was glad they weren’t in danger of becoming extinct but also in danger of needing that sherry regardless of time of day. I don’t think Hemmingway and I would have got on. This is not for me.

So I turned my attention to the fashion, because there was most definitely one associated with this activity. In jeans and a tweed jacket and sweater I got by, but only just. The fashion rules seemed to be more for the men however, of which the party primarily consisted. So English. Fawn and brown, cap (one was wearing a Sherlock Holmes number but I think this was a mistake), and shirts with dark brown pads presumably to rest the rifles against. I felt like I was in an episode of Downton Abbey.

I suppose I should try a day at the cricket and a hunt next to complete the English sporting experience…

Friday 21st September

Fashion for Walkers- a comment from Simone on the Coast to Coast Walk

This is an oxymoron. Enough said…

It really is very hard to maintain any sense of looking anything other than, well, wet. Muddy is a variation, which when rinsing out the plastic over pants that make me look like a beginner skier, extends to the entire bathroom and any other clothes that may be around.

You can get light boots that don’t make your feet look enormous. If it was sunny maybe in designer shorts (do they dry easily on a heater?) and shirt you might look fetching. If you are young it’d be that gangly all leg look that might even attract positive attention.They tried this in Martin Sheen’s film on the Camino, but that was Spain and it was warm!  This is not the situation however on the Coast to Coast in Yorkshire. Rugged up in thermals, fleeces, and gore-tex you coudl be 20 or 80 and it’d be hard to tell. I have to face it, this is why I wrote about Stephanie as being on the film crew on the Camino De Santiago rather than as a walker.

I would also like to add that there is no such thing as water proof boots, coats, gloves. Enough rain and I promise you, they all leak. I’ve tested it out. Wet socks are the norm. My goretex jacket to be fair has kept my body warm and dry but the rain goes down the arms and ensures that even if the water doesn’t go into your glove, they will eventually succumb to the torrent.

 

 

Friday 14th September

Fashion in English Pubs

I’m currently at the White Lion Pub in Paterdale. This is in the Lakes District of England. Let me clarify, it is called the Lakes District because of the lakes. I had had this vague idea that lakes got their water from snow melting somewhere else. Wrong. It gets its water because it rains, constantly. The only fashion issue really is how to stay dry if one needs to leave the safe confines of the ancient pub one finds oneself in. Like this one, where Wordsworth was apparently here when told Nelson died. You know, the one that was warring with Napoleon, the short Frenchman who couldn’t find a sling.

I am in the corner of the pub under the TV. This is the only place that wifi works. It’s great it has wifi at all because mostly in the area their is no mobile phone service. If putting in the service requires outdoor activity then all is explained. It rains too much to do anything. Above me Judi Dench is learning to cook and entering a competition for ale pie. This is a regualr at all pubs I haven’t tried yet. Given I don’t like ale it’s well down the list but given the South Afrcan wine doesn’t arrive until tomorrow and the Chliean is rubbish and I don’t want Aussie, the list is bare….

There are a lot of walkers here. This presumably explains the fashion sense. Or lack of it. Okay, if they’re straight off the Coast to Coast walk they’ll be in soaking walking gear. But as many have their luggage carried, can’t they slip into something a little more…fashionable?

Then again a lot of the accents around me are English, and they aren’t all walkers. We have men in loafers, white socks and cardigans. Ooop the winner woman just walked in. Older female, long floral skirt, green shirt about to burst open over her ample cleavage and the ubiquitious cardie.

The owner is waiting for the busload and we get thrown out. I imagine the dress sense will deteriorate…

 

 

Friday 7th September

Dressing for Cocktails

There was once a time when a cocktail party meant an after five number with a small hat and gloves, and cocktails were actually served. Now days, or at least in Australia a cocktail party means champagne (occasionally with a dash of peach and more recently a sugared hibiscus but regrettably usually neither, which would be fine if it was French but it’s usually Aussie sparkling, just not quite the same) and as for dress, well anything goes. In Melbourne mostly this means something black. Sydney at least has sunshine and color.

But right now I’m in Hong Kong staying at the Upper House. Dinner at the China Club (members and friends only and more than a dash of colonial feel) and then cocktails (real cocktails) at Café Gray Deluxe. Been there since 2009 so not a reference to Christian Gray (as in Fifty Shades).

One thing about Hong Kong is that it is glamorous. Women waft past me in in designer label and I want to rush back to my room and hope if I look long enough in my luggage a Versace will materialize. I’m thinking Versace because women are thin, elegant and color looks wonderful against jet black hair. Given I’m blond and no Versace packed I’ll make do with the understated black and white number I’m wearing. But if we go to the races, a hat is I think a must. Meantime I’ll concentrate on the view and the wasabi martini…

Friday 31st August

Leopard Print

I’m thinking 1980’s. Big hair and probably a porn star. Must have been the boots I saw once in a second hand shop. Platforms and lots of leopard print and the model had on leopard skin hot pants. 1970’s I guess. Not good.

My stepsister went to a party where the theme was ‘It shouldn’t have been put together.” Anything leopard skin probably would have got the point across, but as usual she invaded my wardrobe and sadly managed to find things I had forgotten about. They really did need to be forgotten about. Then she put them all on together. I am glad I’m not still working at Coco. If anyone found out we were related I’d have lost all credibility. Not for her wearing them, for having owned them.

I think I’ll stick to leopard print underwear…

Friday 24th August

Aging Gracefully or Disgracefully?

 Or How short can your skirt be and does it matter how old you are?

by SIMONE SINNA

With the death of Helen Gurley Brown in the last week (editor/founder of Cosmo), and the ongoing debate about Fifty Shades of Grey the paper has been full of varying opinions about whether these influences helped or hinder women. Are we all at the mercy of the cosmetic companies, is this all a plot to have us pleasing men, is it our own inherent insecurities and is all we need a good man (or not so good, just as long as they’re rich?).

Darcy, Grey and rich dark brooding men (Gabriel de Romanos and Jeffrey Carroway in my Stephanie Beauman trilogy) in romance fiction still fare well in some quarters. In Grey’s taste he had the taste on clothes so not only didn’t Anastasia Steel have to worry about her bedroom performance (one reviewer suggested this as a reason for the attraction of her virginal status though I’m inclined to think many Americans like this view of women in general as if fits in with the Puritanical origins of the country) she didn’t have to oworry about which designer label to choose. Of course she was only 23 and the wear was for the bedroom so aging and length of her skirt wasn’t an issue.

Helen Gurley Brown reached a ripe old age and did so like Catherine Deneuve and the aging French female TV weather and news reporters that are highly regarded. Phyllis Diller on the other hand took to growing old in the disgraceful camp when last on TV and while it was part of the comedian act, so was the fact she was a woman and she had no intention of becoming ‘invisible’ as she went over the magic ‘45’ into that ‘certain age’ category. Both women ulitmately were their own people and if they chose to have plastic surgery or not, use cosemtics or not- well I think they had the right to do so. How do you ensure though that younger more vulnerable women aren’t adversely influenced?

I am currently writing a novel where the heroine is 45. It’s a romance (not erotica) among other things. It was being discussed in my husband’s writing class – and one guy piped up that she couldn’t possibly be wearing tight jeans and heels because that’d be gross. He was 21. I guess his Mum is 45. But really?I think we may need to work on men too! I read somewhere that mini-skirts were the prerogative of the under 30’s (in case the guy whistling got a shock when his eyes hit the face and found it wasn’t some ‘chick’).   My daughter borrows my tight jeans and heels so I guess I’m going to be there with Phyllis. If I get to 95 guess I can do what I damn well please…

Friday 17th August

Gloves

Winter is wonderful for fashion and as much as I like warm climates, living in somewhere like Queensland, you really miss the wonderful extras of winter clothing- hats (see last week), scarves (nest week maybe) and gloves.

Gloves can be annoying but they can be equally as essential and a definite fashion statement. Think of the Queen and hers. Okay, maybe don’t think too hard but they are a statement. Michael Jackson and his one. Grace Kelly and those divine long elegant ones. I have several pairs like this and so few places to wear them! Also you have to think about whether you put the rings on top or underneath. If the former you’re stuck with them on all night and they invariably end up covered in champagne and some sort of cocktail sauce. Therefore they need to be black (as in Simone’s AVI!)

But winter gloves have a lot more versatility. There’s usually an attached coat that must have pockets or else the gloves won’t last long. And when you think you’ve lost them next season this is the first place to check- all the pockets of your coats. You may find a lot of other interesting things as well if you’re anything like me…

I had a brief period of interest in fingerless gloves which overcome the sauce, juggling keys etc problem but alas it’s my fingers that need them. Particularly in New York! Alright I still wear the fluffy pink ones that go with the matching hat (last weeks photo).

Current favourites? Can’t go past red gloves…though I like the fluffy ones too… (no animal was harmed in the making of these gloves!)

Friday 10th August

Gym Bunnies …

It has been said that when I hit the ski slopes I look more ski bunny (you know, head to foot white fluff) than well shall we say serious skier? The mulled wine is actually one on the day’s highlights (and significantly improves my skiing).

But when it comes to the gym I mean business. This is investment in future health and there’s the whole routine the personal trainer set out for me… (I don’t think they meant me to do the routines more than once, do you?). I go to the city gym though and while not exactly elite I am mixing with the Director of the Australian Ballet (who is seriously fit) and I want to look serious. So the question is- what to wear?

There’s no bunnies here let me tell you. No fluff and I seem to be the only person colour coordinated. Pink, okay. Most people look like they are trying not to be noticed even the ones with well-toned bodies and who seem fit.  Is it like the back pack thing- that the cool kids only use one strap? The better you look the more you pretend you don’t (the French take the badges off their expensive cars to down play things but I’ve never thought this was an Aussie thing). There’s men that wear leggings under their shorts, men who wear very little and should and those who wear very little and are as wide as they are tall but it’s all muscle.

Still better than what I saw one of my colleagues goes running in. Like jogging, not just late to the office, but he was in a business shirt and baggy shorts. He doesn’t see the need to buy a special outfit- but then he doesn’t see the need for jacket either…

Myself? Well the right attire is needed to put you in the mood and as the Olympics come to an end, seeing their outfits- well let’s just hope it helped with speed because by and large they weren’t beautiful (particularly beach volley ball outfits!). Me? I get too have a pink, yellow, purple…well anything that encourages exercise, right?

Friday 3rd

Winter Hats – let’s try again!

Okay last week got a little out of control. But it’s still cold and I’m still wearing hats! They’ve even made it into a book shop in Gertrude St (Fitzroy, Vic, Aus) but these are warm fuzzy and fun.

Probably the place you see the most fun ones (and warm) is on the ski-fields though some of the wild jester hats are at best impractical of maybe they ski better than I do! Have managed to get a photo of the fun fluffy pink number- they’re in front. It gets hot indoors though.

When I was on the Camino de Santiago (Martin Sheen’s movie covers the 800km haul across Spain), this one was 2000km from central France, through (not just over!) the Pyrenees and then the coastal route we started in winter and it was cold. (You can read about this on Simone’s blog on Tuesdays when there isn’t a Grand Prix, or as fiction via a making of a film in Exposé). Winter in Europe or Northern Us is seriously cold and the hat is not just needed it’s essential! Think Dr Zhivago and the icicles in the ‘summer’ home…

In Europe I had a thick sheepskin coat and matching brown hat and scarf (over the door and to the left of same photo). And I needed it! Opinion about fur coats and animals aside, you can see why people appreciate their warmth and everything that evolution has contributed! In Australia it just isn’t that cold. Not the biting to the centre of one’s being type cold. Occasional exceptions!

 

August Friday 27th July

Winter Hats

When I was living in New York, a hat was a given in winter, for men and women. It wasn’t necessarily a fashion statement (okay, it was for me) but rather an essential part of the wardrobe to prevent heat loss. In Melbourne it’s cold, but not so cold that you can’t make do with a scarf or a turned up coat collar if you have to. So a hat has to be a conscious decision- and what a fun one!

Berets- my favorite is pink and fluffy and has matching fingerless gloves and I’d show a picture but having a computer meltdown (ahhhh brand new one) and having to do this from someone else’s after a margarita as I am off interstate tomorrow. Will try for next week with hats from great Gertude St hat shop!

Men wore hats in New York too, here only my psychiatrist friend wears one and he’s Irish so the beret looks right!

Friday 20th July

Victorian Garb

While it’s true I wouldn’t like the corsets, nor the bustle, there is something rather majestic about Victorian outfits that are of the modern variety. I’m thinking Bellatrix Lestrange, the bad mad woman from Harry Potter. If you’re in any doubt because the mad is putting you off the outfit, watch the episode, I think the last one, where Hermione is still is Bellatrix’s clothes when she returns to herself after one of those spells (the one she got wrong in an earlier episode and ended as a cat).

I was reminded of this when my younger stepsister went out to a recent fancy dress party with a Harry Potter theme. She rummaged around in my wardrobe and decided Bellatrix was it. Amazing what you can do with contemporary clothes. The boots were easy- see last weeks post as I have boots for all occasions. These boots are oldies but goodies, black mid calf length lace ups. When they were new (and I was wearing them) a woman at a party came up and told me she loved them. She was looking at th man I was with at the time so this might not be entirely reliable. But they do look very Bellatrix and surprisingly Victorian.

Next my stepsister found the bodice. What wardrobe doesn’t have one? This was bought to wear as the strapless top to a skirt that flared, but combined with a long black skirt, and a Thierry Mugler black jacket that comes in at the waist with long laces, all that was needed was a good hair teasing! Though see earlier post, the cape could have been added  too. I have got a great photo of Victorian goths in capes stalking the streets of Whitby at Halloween.

Simone did a blog on Wednesday on hoarding. Okay, I confess I hoard clothes. I may never have thrown anything out unless it was full of holes, ripped and faded beyond recognition. It makes for easy fancy dress options….

 

Friday 13th July

Boots: almost enough for you to want it to stay winter

I love boots. Firstly they seem to fit me and be comfortable, something I can’t say for any number of stilettos strappy things in my shoe cupboard (Manolos excepted). They’re warm and dry. They last. And there are plenty of varieties. Here are some of the wilder ones in the range after the daily wear brown and blacks. The pale pink ones (bought in Oxford) with the lace up the back you wouldn’t want to walk in puddles in but elegant!

The Bloomingdales over the knee ones from last season, okay they slip in the snow but back in Australia not so much of a problem. The cowboy boots do make me feel a bit fancy dress but though I got these ones in Canada, they are a bit like the stars and stripes pair I wear to the Texan ball in the finale of Exclusive (now out at Siren). The final pair? German of course…and definitely inspire a bit of Goth….most appropriate maybe for Friday 13th?

6th July

Fashion though the Ages

I still swoon slightly when I watch Gone with the Wind. Partly at Rhett Butler (not Clark Gable please note) but also at Scarlett O’Hara’s wardrobe. That white dress she opens the movie in…is divine. To be fair it is made clear even in the movie how impractical clothes in that era were. The corsets, not being able to eat and breath, the skirt tipping up 180 degrees with the wire frame underneath to how the frilly underwear. But they were beautiful. But loads of petticoats would also have impeded progress- look at how they had to ride horses! (I wonder what the stats are re deaths and injuries second to being sidesaddle?)

Move forward a hundred and fifty years and we’re all in jeans. Practical, comfortable and I’d like shares. But they don’t give you that swooning moment. Even on the catwalk of the couture shows the ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’ are for show stagemanship and outrage, not beauty. Christian Dior probably had it with the ‘new’ look of the fifties but that was because women were desperate for beauty after years of war deprivation. I hope we don’t need another war to get us to the same stage.

It is true though that you can get away with a lot in 2012. No you couldn’t wear a Scarlett O’Hara hoop dress and pantaloons (though you’d get away with the pantaloons as a fashion statement) except to a fancy dress but twenties? Yep, have in my cupboard such a dress complete with long frills. All you have to do is add the band around your head.

Thirites and forties? I have a long sleek black silk skirt circa 1940. Noone had ever thought it out of place. Many of my hats, though modern, could also be circa same time. Even the 1820’s Josephine style (hanging from just below the breast line) has been in fashion, albeit shorter (never took this one up, makes you look pregnant which is okay if you are but not otherwise).

So it seems I’ll have to whisk back to Venezia for carnival to wear the big ballroom number and in the meantime rejoice in our choices. The modern Western women is undoubtedly the luckiest in history.

 

29th June

Pop Fashion

Lady Gaga is currently in Melbourne doing five concerts, more than anywhere else in Australia, including Sydney which of course is bigger. Does this say something about Melburnians? Possibly. Though I’m not a particular Lady Gaga fan I was in Hartford Connecticut a couple of years ago when she was doing a concert, and her fans brought life to somewhere (and it may have just been where I was eating) that otherwise I wouldn’t really have bothered with.

Likewise the fans here have been on TV and in the paper, as of more wildly dressed than her, though probably not as wild as her concert. Can you really sing with someone trying to simulate sex with you? Mmm…

But getting the joy de vie from dressing up- well that I can identify with! I went through a Madonna phase at one stage. Around the time of the Lady Gaga concert in Connecticut I was living in New York and there was a 25 year anniversary playing of Desperately Seeking Susan that the stars – Rosanna Arquette and Aidan Quinn, not Madonna- turned up to (looking hot given the passing of a quarter century) and did Q&A. Okay the film wasn’t Academy award stuff and a lot of people deride Madonna’s acting ability (I thought she should have got an Academy award for Evita– she was sensational). But there was something quite magic about it and when I first saw it was fun being inspired by the zany fashion sense. I did it with chunky jewellery, hats and a leather jacket, but the phase was short- this really wasn’t me, even in high school.

So go for it guys- even if I don’t like what you’re wearing, it’s bright interesting anf un. The world is way too serious and we need something to lighten us all up!

22nd June

Academic Couture: Is there such a thing?

My lecturers were never exactly well dressed. Most were quite young or quite old. The younger ones were supporting themselves through a PhD and thus poor, so jeans and shirt were about it. The older ones, particularly the tenured ones, made an art form out of shabby. Those jackets with patches on the elbows? Well that’s because they needed them. Cuffs also looked worse for wear.

So with this in mind perhaps seeing the freshman arriving on campus for the first time at University of Minnesota shouldn’t have been a surprise. Well apart from making me feel old. Or maybe being led around wit name tags on is a guaranteed way of taking years off you. They seemed to have decided that they’d blend in with the lecturers (the young ones). Or maybe it was in that desperate effort that only freshmen can feel, to manage looking totally like everyone else. I’m sure the guys put on their jeans, look in the mirror and try to work out just how far down their butt their jeans should be. And then work the belt accordingly. If I was to yell out and say “Hey why don’t you tighten the belt” I’d be greeted with a “you are so not cool” look and a brief moment (freshman only) about whether I was right or maybe I was being sarcastic and they should go lower?

Easier, this day only, for women. Hard to go wrong with low rider jeans and a Tshirt. Shoes – well the low risk option is runners, but you can tell who will join the elite women’s cappa right here. Some women (okay I confess) just can’t be seen out in anything but heels. Not that this is guarantee of anything of course (apart from bunions). I managed to fall over spectacularly in my first lecture in front of the Dean, and second level down below the Plastic set is fine by me. I was in California as a freshman so I suspect there were different rules – maybe everyone in runners is fine in Minnesota.

The rest of my undergrad degree I recall as being a little like Mean Girls meets Legally Blonde. There were definitely some (women) who dressed to be remembered. Then there were some who didn’t but will be remembered never-the-less. I suspect at our reunion, nothing will have changed. The Queenbee when I last saw her, still looks incredibly hot (and unlike mean girls, was actually smart and friendly). The dag is still trying to save the world and doesn’t pay much attention. And the academic? Well she’s post PhD but isn’t tenured so she’s busy fading into the background. No high heels in sight.

15th June

Shopping In New York: Platforms, Ugh boots, gumboots and new stores

The negative- wall to wall people. God NY is busy in June!

The positives – everything else! Okay Aussie dollar not doing as well as it was last time I was here, but prices aren’t too bad, though I haven’t been anywhere near the Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo shop it’s true. And I didn’t look at the price on the Fendi handbags (but aren’t they to die for?).

Actually I’m a bit over shoes at the moment. Or rather the shoes that are in the shops. They look great – in fact these ‘American’ ones (below left) would go brilliantly with an outfit I wore to a ball in Texas (see Exclusive – the Texas GP finale- hopefully coming out in a month or so). But…who can walk in them? And I needed to do a Tango…

All shoes seem to currently have an inch or two of padding under the sole. I feel I am floating or rather tottering over life rather than being in touch. I value my ankles too much…

Then there’s the gum boots (English call them wellingtons I think). You know, plastic or rubber boots for mucking out stables? Playing in puddles as a kid? Well they are the rage here. I get it in winter, though you’d have to wear thermal socks to stop your feet freezing (and then they’d bake indoors). But in June? Even if it is wet. What are these people thinking?

Better I guess than the Ugh boots. Seeing they are a fashion statement in New York I have to say is a little funny. In Australia only Bogans wear them. Think Kath and Kim (the Brits) or trailer trash (Americans).

Oni and Joe Fresh (started selling clothes in a green grocer shop hence the name) are the newest shops since I was last here. Oniqlo is Japanese on the corner of 5th and 53rd, downstairs your average 5th Ave modern aiming for the 20’s year old market. Then you take the very long escalators and the store goes on and on forever. Cheap T-shirts? This is the place to go.

7th June

Walking: Can you still be fashionable?

Common sense would of course say no. This is why the automobile was invented. To get us – and our wardrobes– from point A to point B. Walking is good for us, yes, but a stroll into and around town is about all I’d personally consider necessary. Spending a few days post Monaco Grand Prix in France, it would seem that French women agree. They are racing to get their baguettes from the bakery and probably don’t eat very much of them, but they are racing back to their cars. I note in the little town we are having lunch in that they are also racing to the green grocer. There are a lot of myths about why French women don’t get fat – having spent quite a bit of time in the country I am certain it’s because they eat well and moderately. If they buy tarts at the bakery it’s not for them, or if they do indulge at a dinner party they have a mere sliver. And they don’t ‘walk’ distances that require them to be anything less than fashionable.

Now the Germans are different. A group of 50’s plus German women walk past us with back packs and their scallop shells attached (I am in a village along the Camino de Santiago de Compostella, see Exposé for the story of how we filmed the walk). They look sensible, practical. They’ve read the books about light trousers, layers, good shoes and socks. Nut fashionable they are not. If they bump into Mr Right they just aren’t going to be prepared. At least decent underwear is light, small and dries easily (and must always match– as every French woman knows… see Two Lipsticks and a Lover by Helen Firth).

Now this is the possibility of wearing shorts and a top if the weather is hot enough that you might be able to get away with. Shoes are a problem though, so you need to take a pair for the evening. Even the most ordinary clothes can be overlooked if you’re in high heels. When Simone walked the Camino (2038 km) her husband carried them all the way to San Sebastian so she could go to Arzak (which also features in Exposé). She carried the dress though– and this really is where women’s clothes come into their own. Everyone needs a little black or red number that weighs nothing and hangs out perfectly after being squashed in luggage or a back pack. The only way to walk….

1st June

Clothes for Travel

 

I like clothes. A lot. I also like to travel. But after losing one bag to the black pit also known as Heathrow and another with LLIAT (Luggage Left In Another Town…), to say nothing of the trials of travel, I have been convinced of the merits of travelling on hand luggage.

Which creates a quandary. How does one pack enough clothes for a 3-4 week trip that covers casual walking to elegant dining?

One option: buy and cast off as you go.

Okay, can’t do that one as my budget won’t allow it, and besides I grow very attached to some of the clothes I have queued for, found for a song, been given or just plain fallen in love with.

It helps travelling in Summer. Clothes are lighter, no coats needed (though you can carry one of these separately). It’s worse if you travel from Europe in Winter to an island in the Southern hemisphere all in one go.

It also helps being a woman, because all of the clothes I chose to travel with can be squashed into a ball and still hang out as wearable without an iron. G-strings also take up no space though if tucked in a round everything else, they tend to fly out everywhere, always a problem if customs decide to go through the case.

The best advice though is to decide on a compatible colour theme. You can’t take too many jackets so the one(s) you do have need to go with everything. Black jackets always good for this.

Shoes are the biggest problem – generally I have the ones I wear on the plane and a very light pair of Reebox for walking and exercise. Resist the temptation for more!

Remember also – you can always buy another bag and return with checked luggage….

25th May

The Romance of a Cape

There is something about a Cape.

When I put this cape on in a tiny shop in Venice in February at the time of Carnivale I was transported back to another time. The sheer weight and warmth of the fabric encloses and hides you, protecting you from the world. In the dimly light foggy Venice nights with narrow laneways and masked revellers, there seems to be much to be protected from.

Venice at Carnivale must be the Mecca for historical romance writers. The city if so weighed down with history it’s sinking, and in Winter (Carnivale being an exception) there are fewer tourists and the pollution less obvious. This is the city of Casanova and the Bridge of Sighs, as well as other amazing oddities such as the Peggy Guggenheim museum that I discocered by accident while winding around back streets. After a European tour of Madonna’s and Child paintings (I will be happy never to see another ever again) the sudden burst of modern art was an inspiring breath of fresh air. In the setting of Carnivale though some paintings took on a more sinister air.

Max Ernst who was Guggenheim’s lover painted his other secret lover into his paintings and the sexual tension and at times confronting images seem to fit well into the highly charged atmosphere. I have never been but I believe there is some events (invitation only and not cheap) which border on recreation of a time long past where sexual predilections are catered for and where beneath the cape men and women are not as they seem.

I wander the dark streets protected by my cape, rugged up against the cold, and walk past high walls with occasional glances into courtyards and homes beyond. If only those walls could talk.

18th May

Fancy Dress

Why is it that guys don’t like dressing up? At best they grumbling take the opt out option of black tie with varying degrees of grace, depending on whether they own the required attire.

I once attended a ball where the dress code was Wild West theme, with the opt out option available, theoretically for both genders. The women all dressed up. Who hasn’t secretly wanted to be the Bar maid with the heart of gold or better still one of the dancing girls doing the can-can? Okay there is a bit of getting your head around this. My girlfriend’s son (aged eight) visiting Disneyland in Paris knew the can-can was French so that was okay. That everyone was speaking French kind of made sense too – in France, French dance after all. What was harder to fathom was why this was called the (American) Wild West. I think my friend explained via way of French pirates in New Orleans (had to fit in with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride after all) and that they kept heading inland…

Anyway, there we were all dressed up in frills and feather boas but the men? Dinner suits. Didn’t they all play Cowboys and Indians as kids?

It was worse at another ball, jungle theme. Given  that the waiters and waitresses were dressed up as Tarzan and Jane. Okay I confess I did too (and won the best dressed prize for the night, given to me by one of the very hot Tarzans – pity I don’t drink beer). Most women went for jungle flavour rather than skimpy, it was a ball after all. My poor father though had been pressured to enter the spirit of things (its tough for politicians) and he and my stepmother were both decked out in safari outfits. Mmmm….

My younger sister frequently attends fancy dress – I’ve seen a selection of young women with long legs in cop, teacher and French maid outfits that I think were meant for another occasion entirely. Last week she went as mini mouse and I think her mother sighed in relief. Her partner went as a SWAT team member (ie normal clothes, with a plastic gun and handcuffs that were confiscated at the door).

The one fancy dress scenario I have seen enter into with gusto is the hookers and deviates balls – the men with flare are generally gay though. I guess the dress up gene is linked with the feminine side and as I like my men macho, what the hell. Black Tie is pretty damn good.

11th May

Male Fashion

 

Anyone who has read anything about Stephanie Beauman will know she likes her men well dressed and polished. I have a particular fondness for men in Black Tie (it can make the most ordinary man attractive). But part of liking men dressed up is the contrast to how they are the rest of the time. Which is mostly not good.

I wrote an article once on schizophrenia and the psychiatrist I was interviewing said that when they first started in psychiatry in the 80’s lipstick half way up the chin on a woman and trousers with the crutch at the knees in men (as well as shaved heads in either gender) was almost diagnostic of the disorder.

I would suggest no more – or if it is half the male population under the age of 25 has schizophrenia (to keep things accurate I should point out that the rate is 1% of the population has schizophrenia, same in both genders).

So fashion has for the last few years made a positive out of men not having hips and being too lazy/forgetful/cheap to buy belts. And it’s been a huge bonus for underwear manufacturers – they no longer have to pay so much to advertise as the population is doing it for them, Bonds, Calvin Klein, and Rio there on the streets like a walking billboard.

As for the shaved head- well between it being ‘in’ to be bald rather than thin in patches (unless you’re Shane Warne) or to shave your head for charity, to say nothing of the effects of chemo, no one can really make an intelligent comment about male hair so I’ll leave it alone (except to say Shane Warne’s hair is okay but OMG what makes him think a plastic face is attractive? For the Americans he’s an ex-cricketer who’s had a mid life crisis. Seems we’re stuck with him and actress/celebrity girlfriend Liz Hurley as they just bought a property in Melbourne).

Men in suits seem to continue to head the best dressed look, however stupid and uncomfortable ties may be (and it’s not that we girls don’t suffer).  I think men just need the discipline – like the work protocol takes over from where their mother’s left off. Whatever it takes- at least I haven’t seen suit trousers with the crutch at the knees…yet….

4th May

Roses and Chocolate Blog Hop and Giveaway STARTS TONIGHT! Not exactly fashion but what every fashionable woman wants to be seen with….

THIS ALL STARTED WITH LEA but all below involved!

1.  Lea Barrymire

2. Michele Hart

3. Rose Leigh Woods

4. Carolyn Rosewood

5. Rita Bay

6. JoAnne Kendrick

7. Becca Simone

8. Siobhan Muir

9. Camile Carson

10. Wendy Soliman

11. Kasey Dean

12. Alicia White

13. Lynn Tyler

14. Hennesee Andrews

15. Christi Bart 16. Nicole Morgan 17. Missy Lyons 18. Jan Graham 19. Casey Crow 20. Simone Sinna 21. Lea Kinkade

 

Starting at one min after midnight today, it’s up and running until one minute before midnight on the 9th May! Try and read all the blogs, there’ll be some great giveaways and who doesn’t like Roses, chocolates and pressies!!!

For a chance at a copy of one of two short erotic story collections (print) published by Stringybark, Between the Sheets or Heat Wave of ’76 (Australia only) or a copy of Embedded (erotic romance suspense, ePub or lit version) then just leave a comment on my website saying why you like or don’t like roses and chocolates! Winners notified by email/tweet/facebook (and asked for address via email for books to be sent) on May 10th.

You can also enter by tweeting @simonesinna with chocolates and roses in the message or via facebook, but maximum of three entries per person!

Be sure to see Monday’s blog on this topic- a Romantic Short Story Called the Language of Roses

From Stephanie Beauman on this topic:

What’s not to like???

Roses are the flower of romance and look beautiful and the better ones, smell even better. They add a special flavour to the night out with a special man and then fill the apartment with fragrance for (if you’re lucky) a couple of weeks afterwards to remind you.

Chocolates? Well in my mind I get stuck in that chocolate shop in the film/book Chocolat. One of the highlights of France, and when I was in Cluny filming (see Exposé, recently released sequel to Embedded) they have a shop there that didn’t have Johnny Depp dropping in but otherwise captured the tone well. To say nothing of the flavor of the chocolates!!! The chocolate fountain in the window, the wonderful white and dark chocolate slabs with dried fruit (they must be healthy, right?) and then there are the desserts as well…

27th April

Stockings

Okay just to clarify from the outset, when I say stockings I also mean pantyhose. But how erotic is it to title something Pantyhose? Makes me think of bank robbers rather than shadows of the bedroom where garter belts are slowly being unfastened. True, pantyhose have to be edged or ripped off rather than sexily undone and dropped, but as there are some fabulously sexy stockings of the pantyhose variety on the market, I prefer to put this group (those pictured for instance) together rather than with the more utilitarian ‘tights’ that one wears to keep warm if in a dress.

What is it about this type of stocking? Women in the 50’s and post-war saved up for a pair and repaired and re-repaired them, such a desirable thing that they were. They feel good, make no mistake. The feeling of silk even if it is cotton or nylon, the sheerness as they pull over flesh and help make the worst looking legs half respectable. The naughtiness of them. Well of mine- some with “garters” in the design, or tight look low down giving away to hints of flesh further up the leg. The designers are thinking sex, make no mistake.

In true 50’s style the price remains high, just to make as truly appreciate them- and die when they get a ladder as we put them on for the first time. How many dollars have been waste in moments like this? Like last night’s ones, sheer black with flames up the legs. Alas now also with ladders accompanying them. Too painful to think about.

As the Grand Prix circuit edges closer to Paris I guess I’ll just have to drop into Gallerie Layfayette to replace them…

20th April

The Wonder of Jewellery

I had to buy a present for my girlfriend last week (see Ball Gowns and Major Birthdays below) and what better way to find one that go and see another girlfriend who has a jewellery business? Of course I love the antique jewellery I have (see the earlier Faberge red drops!) from Katherine and Roy’s Antiques but modern jewellery can be quite fantastic and Gillian (gillianhillmandesign.com) has a great array of earrings, rings and necklaces, using gold and white gold, emeralds, rubies, pearls (some great Aussie ones) and a lot more unusual things.

For my friend I ended up with an onyx necklace with a beautiful black Tahitian pearl. But I couldn’t leave with out these earrings… One is from art clay which gets baked and then painted with gold, the other is gold and white gold and dangles daintily….

13th April

Ball Gowns and Birthdays

Tomorrow night is a friend’s birthday. A major birthday. Big enough that it requires an ‘occasion’. Not that it isn’t always nice to have someone making a fuss of you. My 29th? With Gabriel, champagne, dinner with white table clothes and silver service – but in the open air with the sunset behind Uluru also known as Ayer’s rock, an amazing monolith standing alone in the middle of the Australian desert. My 30th (see Exposé which was released as an ebook on April 10th www.bookstrand.com/simone-sinna ) was at Arzak restaurant in San Sebastián in Spain (amazing- the chef’s daughter had just got an award the day we went) with one of Hollywood’s heart throbs.

Other Major birthdays I’ve been to? Simone’s after one of her (nonerotic) books was turned into a full length screen play and filmed over six months and then shown at a proper cinema complete with limo, red carpet and photographers. And awards presented to the actors (and they weren’t all bad though Simone needs to stick to writing…) presented by the Actor’s guild. While the movie had a serious theme (the book had got to the last phase at Random house) the bloopers didn’t … and the out-takes did include some, well, M rated moments.

Simone’s husband was taken by helicopter to a rural getaway one year and another a surprise party in a three star French restaurant. One year they went to El Bulli when it was the best restaurant in the world and now sadly doesn’t exist.

Probably all topped by the party my girlfriend who is a fire dancer and acrobat got paid to entertain at. Located on an island for a 40th where about 500 guests were served constant top level champagne and sent home with Rolex watches.

Okay so tomorrow night it’s my girlfriends and it’s black tie and ball gowns. So what to wear? I’m usually overdressed compared to everyone else (okay so I like to dress up, practically live at Century 21 when in NY and my mother indulges me. What’s a girl to say?). I’d like to wear the dress I wore to the Grand Prix ball (in Exclusive, just accepted by Siren) but unfortunately I couldn’t afford it and had to give it back to Tiara.

Women just so don’t do ball gowns these days. And then as it’s someone else’s birthday, you have to be sure you aren’t going to upstage them. Bit like not wearing white to a weddings (though originally that is exactly what the bridesmaids did wear in order to distract evil spirits away from the bride). Being in Melbourne everyone is bound to wear black. It’s a Melbourne thing. No, not Goth, just traditional conservative. Me? I’d rather like some colour. Maybe this?

6th April Easter- Good Friday

On Play Boy Bunnies …and other fluff and feathers

Great. High Heffernan finds another way of exploiting women by selling us all night attire with bunnies on them. He must be having a real giggle. Trouble is they … well the bunny is rather cute. I was in a aerobics competition once wearing a bunny outfit and it was great for ease of movement. If my tail hadn’t fallen off I might have even won. Well maybe not. I have a feeling I was considered frivolous by one of the judges who had that “we’re serious about exercise” look.

So I don’t have a bunny costume anymore. Or a playboy towel, purse, key ring, underwear or night wear. Let’s face it. There are classier alternatives.

The teddy, basque, bodice with garters and stockings, negligee… the things your boyfriend or husband gives you when you really want a new iPhone or coffee machine. Particularly when they bought a size 6 and you’re a 16. (When my size 18 girlfriend was out on the town she gave me all her presents. They really don’t stretch that far).

…other fluff and feathers

So don’t wait for them to buy the sexy lingerie – surprise them and buy it for yourself. Take a girlfriend, it’s fun. Fluff, feathers and fancy dress for the bedroom. One girlfriend bought me this amazing see through blue flimsy negligee that makes me feel like I’m Marlene Dietrich. The men who have seen me in it weren’t carrying guns either…Cops and nurses are a bit passé but better than bunnies. At my half-sister’s recent 15th birthday all the girls were in variations of this theme. With legs that go on forever and looking years older. Wow, watch out men of the future from this lot!

 

3oth March

Pants Suits

Living away from home (New York) in a country where there is a female prime minister (Australia) has got me thinking about women in politics and what they wear.

Firstly it’s an issue. It is something that comes up. Julia Gillard is constantly being derided (she does her best but she does need guidance about how to minimise rather than maximise her ample hips) and made fun of in a recent TV series. Before her it was Joan Kirner (a previous State premier) and her polka dots and leader of the democrats red chiffon number of the front page of the woman’s weekly. Why? Because they really are bad dressers (jury is out on this)? Because Vogue hasn’t made it out here (no)? Because they’re female (yes)? I have to say I rather like the Governor General’s numbers (even if she does have a man’s name, Quentin, she is defintiely female and very colourful).

Aside from anything else, this country is culturally well, ocker. Lay back, deriding of most things, a bit cynical, a bit anti-establishment. They did after all come from the convicts. Women were Sheilas and in the outback they still are. But then we’ve got cowboys in the States…

So are we any better in the States? Not really- just different. I don’t think I have seen any US female politician in anything other than a pant’s suit. The male politician’s wives wear skirts and jackets on the campaign trail but the female politicians never show their legs. Neither do female academics. There is a almost unbreakable rule – women if they want power must show no sexuality. Not be men, but be devoid of anything that – good heavens, might distract the fellow male politicians or remind people they are women. It’s as if there is something terrifying about femininity. That the power of the mother and seductress might somehow be released in the halls of power.

UK didn’t do much better with Maggie. Whatever else you say about her, the fact that you got to see her in a dress made you think more Dame Edna Everage…

The Italians had a politician who went to the other extreme and campaigned topless. Probably don’t need to go there.

Why can’t we follow France’s model? No not with respect to the men (Dominique Strauss-Kahn is perhaps a great model for everything we don’t want male politicians to be). I’m thinking Christine Legarde. She’s obviously very capable, didn’t sleep her way into power but she’s clearly woman and hasn’t compromised this. Elegant, smart and yes you do get to see her legs.

23rd March

Russian Earrings

Now these are my type of earrings. They look simple but once probably had the signature of Fabergé. Enamel and they look as they look like new. Faberge

I found Roy’s Antiques in Clifton Hill (Melbourne)  and he’s a Russophile. Russian icons, silver – and these earrings. Or rather he had them until they came into my possession… Better still they came with a story, apparently the property of a Russian countess who escaped to the US, but not until after a childhood where she hung out with the royal family. The ones that didn’t make it out. Better still, Roy (the quintessential antique shop owner, slightly starchy, impeccably dressed and spoken and a fountain of knowledge) found a book the good Countess Olga Woronoff  had written and got me a copy- circa 1932. Essentially an early biography complete with photos. Not of the earrings sadly but a gorgeous photo of her at about ten with her father, and her family with the Russian royal children.

Wearing the earrings I can close my eyes and pretend just for a moment (a moment with no Bolsheviks around) I am a continent away in another time.

16th March

Grand Prix Couture

What does a girl wear to the Grand Prix?

Okay there are those among you who will reply nothing (…meaning don’t go). Not everyone gets excited by the first rev of the engine. It’s probably more of a mystery to women in particular. I’m inclined to think from my own experience that if you don’t get bitten early you never will. There has to be someone back in your formative (er sexually formative) history that you link with the sound. Then forever after when you hear the rev, it just goes straight to your groin. Well it does to mine.

It was my first crush. I was fourteen, he was sixteen. Okay the GP was the Monaco one and if you’re going to start somewhere this is kind of starting at the top, hard to improve from there. Particularly as the race was amazing. The main record was that only three cars finished!

Move forward sixteen years or so and here I am in Australia for the Melbourne GP (you can read more about this later in the year when Exclusive comes out). And the issue is – what to wear. Yesterday (Thursday) when they were doing the fly overs and Formula Ford and Porsche races it rained on and off all day, but was also hot and sticky. Not that I’m complaining too much as in New York it wasn’t getting over 16 C. But how to keep dry but stay elegant?

Not sure these grid girls have got it right but at least they are trying!

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/grand-prix

Just hoping that the weather will be better for the weekend and I can show a bit of leg and get some sun! Otherwise, well jeans it is and the only question is which Tshirt I’m going to by. I do like the red Ferrari one but given the two Aussies (Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo are in Red Bull senior and junior (Torro Rosso) maybe I should support them. Maybe one of each of the teams and change them is I get wet…

 

9th March

A Little Bit of Fluff and Fun

Isn’t fluff and fun what fashion is meant to be about? It was International Women’s Day yesterday and it’s great all the wonderful things women have done but lets not lose the ability to do a Cyndy Lauper…

Sometimes girls just want to have fun

It has apparently been the hottest Australian summer in 11 years. The wettest too, given 75% of New South Wales is either under water or under threat of being so. Luckily for flimsy little numbers like this for those hot sultry evenings drinking cocktails on the terrace looking out over Sydney Harbour …Could have come from Tiara Mancini (The Hot House in Embedded…) but is a Gabrielle which is nice given the hot man in my life in Embedded is Gabriel…

As I’m moving back to New York (Exposé coming out next month) I guess I’ll only have to pack it away until June…

2nd March

Earrings

I gave this as a present to Simone…a bit over the top for me but very her.

I had a very Fitzroy experience when I stayed with her in Melbourne; cocktails at The Everleigh on the corner of Gertrude and Napier (new, upstairs and very New York, felt quite homesick), tapas at Anáda, also on Gertrude (great tapas, sherry and great service from Kelly, Jamie (he’s the one with his hair in the bun) and David at the bar). Finished off the evening a few doors down at Enoteca being well looked after by Brigitte and Jamie with a wide choices of great reds by the glass.

Fitzroy Earrings

Ears are even better than ceilings for some chandeliers…

Coffee next morning at the happening place De Clieu (corner George and Gertrude) and then wandered down to buy these earrings at Metal Couture  (www.metalcouture.com).

 

24th February

Hats

I adore hats. Living in Australia they take on a different meaning. Slip slop slap anti-skin cancer program seems to have led to (shudder) caps with handkerchiefs at the back. Very useful I’m sure but these are not the hats to which I refer! Nor do I include Fascinators, a favourite at last year’s Melbourne Cup, though they are not without attraction.

No, I mean hats. Like this one. A little dusty perhaps but true Victorian Gothic. Something to lose yourself in.  Something that makes a statement. Not great in the wind, but the Slip Slop Slap people would love it…

 

16th February

Thank God for Australian weather! Alright it is a little wet at times (well under water up North) but the glorious warmth of summer means you can bring all those gorgeous little numbers out. The ones that cost a fortune and you wonder why given the lack of material constituting them.

Actually this one was a bargain, by Gripp.

And it most certainly does. Grip…

This one was what I wore in Argentina at Gabriel’s house when I seduced Miguel in front of him…

9th February

Sometimes I like to be noticed. Okay maybe a lot of the time. What better way to do it than with clothes?

In ‘Embedded’ this dress when worn to the Melbourne Cup (What sort of city has a public holiday for a Horse Race?) is described as a Gaultier. This was a slight exaggeration. Well, actually not true. But I’m sure this dress would inspire JPG if he saw it though…

Miguel certainly appreciated it…

There is a fabulous fashion precinct in Melbourne- Gertrude and into Smith St Fitzroy. Bit grungy and definitely trendy, the stores with new designers hover around the fashion school just off Gertrude in George St. One is even down in Gore St opposite the Pub where ‘Offspring’ is filmed. Anyway, this dress came from one of the designers that was showing her stuff there (though has now moved). It’s wild!

3rd February

Designers. I met my fair share when I was working for Coco and I have to say that in general time is better spent with their clothing than them. There is something about the fashion industry that seems to combine unstable dynamite, metamphetamines and narcissism and then takes a whisk to it. No, actually egg beaters on full throttle. Not that shoppers are much better waiting for the doors to open on sale day.

Favorites? Lots and ever changing. Though I’m out of the fashion industry now, being in Australia has given me a chance to try a whole new country of designers. The weather generally being so good (well there has been a bit of rain admittedly), there’s lots of opportunities for pool and yacht parties…

Versace was one of my old favorites and this dress is the original – Gianni that is. It’s like wearing air…soft caresses occasionally reminding you not to panic, you aren’t naked. And he did like color- Donatella has certainly kept that going!

This one I picked up in Saks, Fifth Ave.

 

 

 

 

27th January

The dress you’re never going to forget.

Okay I really needed a proper photographer for this, but you get the idea. Every woman has one. Maybe it’s the wedding dress. The dress you met your partner in. The dress you first took off for your partner…

Mine is the first dress I bought from the first fashion show I ever went to. It was wild. In a circus tent, there were uncaged leopards (ok, on leases) and some very, very sexy models just in ‘out there’ clothes. I couldn’t resist this dress. It was also the dress that made me realize the power of sex appeal and how what you wear and how you feel makes it ooze out of you. This was a very successful dress on all fronts…

 

20th January

My strong suggestion is that if you’re female and under sixty (and even a few people over) – get a pair before you die! If you wait too long they might be the cause of your death. Okay they do mould to your feet like they were sprayed on, and yes you do feel like a million dollars and yes you could take on Sarah Jessica Parker. But let’s get real. Blanik was Chinese in a previous life and responsible for feet binding. This is not what our feet are meant to do! I’m getting (horror, horror) bunions. The bank account (well had my mother not helped out…) would have been cause for suicide and had I been older when I walked in the them after a snow storm last year in the Big Apple, I would surely have ended up in Bellevue. Possibly the morgue (and I’ve read about the Morgue in Linda Fairstein’s novel (or was it Patricia Cornwell?). Not somewhere to have a date).

Posted October 24th, 2014.

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