Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My unfashionable side: What would Coco say?

Like most Moms who aren't working in a glamorous industry (part-time academia anyone?), attention to fashion is a long-lost memory. But I just finished reading a novel for the svmoms online book club about Coco Chanel called Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky that called to mind why I sometimes love beautiful clothes. And when I say "sometimes," I mean "once in a blue moon". (As I type this, I am wearing hot pink flannel pajama pants with sheep on them and a cotton turtleneck sweater with a mystery stain on the front). But every now and then, I decide I need to look good. I want to look good. So I delve deep into the bowels of my closet and find... something or other.

Reading descriptions of Coco's simple yet elegant style in this novel: her pairing of crisp whites with timeless blacks, recalling her use of beautiful fabric and attention to detail makes me want to own one or two timeless pieces of clothing myself. So maybe for next year's big birthday, I will treat myself to a classy, classic piece of clothing. (And I promise, I won't wear either of them with my pink pajama pants.)

The occasional need for beautiful clothes hit home on my recent birthday. A few weeks ago, my sainted hubby told me he was surprising me for my 39th. He's not a surprise kind of guy, so I was excited. He arranged the sitter (my Mom) and made the reservations. All I had to do was be ready to go around 7 PM on Friday night.

I couldn't remember the last time I had made a major effort with my appearance so I ditched my usual going-out-in-winter look (flouncy silver and black wool skirt, black cardigan and black boots) for my cranberry colored sleeveless dress. When I first brought it home, my hubby dubbed it my Michelle Obama dress because I bought it in Chicago. Plus it's classy and tailored and sleeveless -- a style our First Lady often wears. I put it on for our night out and felt great. And it was a good thing too. Because the surprise was that we went to Manresa for dinner. A place I have longed to go since I first read about it in Switzerland more than five years ago. And Manresa did not disappoint. Oh my. Did it ever not disappoint. We both loved our first amuse bouche (a soft-cooked egg with cream, sherry vinegar and maple syrup) so much that we threatened to order a dozen more and eat them as our first, second and third courses.

Part of what we both loved about Manresa was the casual-elegant yet warm and refined atmosphere. Some of the art on the walls in the restroom consisted of real menus from restaurants in France (presumably where Chef David Kinch used to work?). Looking at them, I was reminded of some of the things I loved about living in France. The wonderful food. The beautiful clothes and sense of style of the residents, the beauty of the vineyards, cycling with friends in the Loire Valley, a lazy trip with my husband and dear friends across Champagne...

It seems that this January, between the novel about Chanel and a transporting evening of eating at Manresa, I've remembered a few things: that I used to live in Europe and even managed to blend in. That I occasionally love to wear beautiful clothes. That I always love a nice glass of champagne. And that taking time with my appearance can elevate my mood and lead to an unforgettable night out.

Note: I received a free copy of the novel Coco Chanel & Ivor Stravinsky as part of the Silicon Valley Moms Group Book Club. This post was inspired by thoughts I had reading the novel, while noting my decidedly unfashionable attire.


Lady Hannemaniac said...

I'm with you! Sometimes nights like that just feel good. Dressing up and going somewhere that you might have in a past life is good for the soul.

My problem is that I have plenty some great clothes... Except they've been hanging in my closet since I got pregnant two years ago. Now the trick is fitting back into them. Sigh.

Bonggamom said...

Great post! We all need a reminder that we actually don't need an occasion in order to take time to look good. My reminder came while on vacation in Manila, where I realized that EVERYONE dressed better than me. I resolved to throw away my Crocs -- then I returned to the US and I started wearing them again. Help, I need strength to get rid of them!

marion said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


courtney said...

I want to borrow it! I love clothes. When I don't feel like I don't have anything to talk to my mom about (or when she's driving me crazy) we reminisce about clothes. 'What Not To Wear' is my guilty pleasure.

WrestlingQueen said...

Feeling the need to look good is healthy and going through the trouble tomake it happen is even healthier

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