Roses and Lace…

image

As much as we Southern Ladies love our Pearls, we do have an inordinate fondness for Roses and Lace- touches that fairly exude feminine fashion! A lace handkerchief carried with a wedding bouquet,  rose corsages pinned to lace blouses or dresses are classic pairings. My sister and I were already wearing lace trimmed blouses with little corsages from a young age. One Christmas, our aunt and uncle were taking us out on the town to the ornately beautiful Alabama Theater decked out in our finery, with our little pocketbooks too.img_1883

I think fashion is at it’s best when it is classic and simple- and this idea isn’t new, Leonardo da Vinci said it best way back in the 1500’s- ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. A Classic Black Dress with Pearls can take you anywhere, darlin’ – Karl Lagerfield famously said: ‘One is never overdressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress’.image

The least expensive way to update a Black Dress or even a Wardrobe of Classics is with Accessories. A friend of mine received a beautiful Christmas bouquet of white roses this week just when I was trying to figure out what to wear to an occasion, I thought these three White Silk Roses pinned on a Lace Patterned Wrap might be just the thing. Winter clothing is often structured, it can benefit from soft beautiful accessories.image

Coco Chanel loved using a floral pin- either in the same tweeds she favored or with Millenary Grade Flowers- like her iconic Camellia pin- she repeated Pearls and Floral Pins over and over in her classic designs. I think Southern ladies were doing this long before Chanel came along but we sure do appreciate her highlightin’ it for us! A word of warning- pins and brooches can be heavy- so make sure what you pin it on can support the weight and alternately some fabrics are heavy so make sure your pin can pierce the fabric- if not? Use a heavier pin behind it and clasp the pins on just the fabric’s surface. Holiday dressing isn’t all about glitz and bright colors, sometimes neutrals can be just as beautiful, just make sure you add Red Lipstick-the iconic ‘Cherries in the Snow’ would perfect this time of year.

Try Roses and Lace to soften your Winter Wardrobe. And if you are looking for some last minute gift ideas, a Warm Wrap or Scarf, an Accessory such as a Beautiful Brooch or Floral Pin and a great Stocking Stuffer would be the all time best selling red lipstick– Revlon’s® ‘Cherries in the Snow’ ! Of course if you have no time at all- send a Bouquet of Roses!

Love y’all, Camellia

photographs are obviously mine- the vintage photograph of me and my sweet sister are from our private collection and the Cherries in the Snow lipstick photo is from AOL images and may be subject to copyright. The rose pins were purchased from a small vendor several years ago, the scarf was purchased locally.

 

French Influence…

imageThere is a definite French Influence in the South…after all one of the Six Flags flown over the South is French!  And let’s be clear, Julia Childs was a Yankee. She did not bring Wrought Iron Furniture, Balconies, Fountains or Railings down here to us- nor did she introduce us to Mayonnaise. It would be easy to believe that food in the Alabama is all ham hocks, cornbread and turnip greens but how would you explain generations of Southern cooks who insisted on a Meringue topping on their famous Banana Puddings if not for a French Influence?

There is a delicate side to Southern Food- one that is unmistakably French. We lighten up our Macaroni and Cheese with enough eggs that it’s almost like a soufflé, in fact souffles are very common in Southern Cookbooks. You could hardly host a Luncheon or, the Lord forbid, a Funeral -without some type of shivering gelatin, Tomato Aspic is iconic. We love our Mayonnaise, homemade if possible- not because of Julia Childs but because our grandmothers made it! I would argue that it was a good ol’ Southern boy named Thomas Jefferson who had America’s first French trained chef!image

The Coastal Southern States almost always have a French Quarter even if miniscule-we just visited a tiny French Quarter in Fairhope Alabama!  Bay Minette, Bon Secour Bay, Daphne, Fayette, Eufaula, Luverne, D’Olive and Dauphin Island (it’s not Dolphin y’all !) are all in Alabama. Look at that Shrimp Boat in Bon Secour Bay! Alabama Seafood comes in there every single day!

image

Even our Children have French inspired names– Ladale, Lavonne, Bridgette, Delane, Jeanette, Eugenia, Annette, Dwayne, Charlene, Verne, Louise and Claude are all rooted in French culture. And who would argue that Southern Women embraced the French Twist, we took it to Marie Antoinette heights with a Beehive that some still maintain! Even our menfolks like Elvis, Porter Waggoner, Jerry Lee Lewis. Merle Haggard and Duane Eddy all had that high pompadour hair!

We want our children to have French hand sewn Batiste Christening Gowns and our Brides proudly boast of Wedding Gowns with Broderie or Alencon lace! Ladies used to brag about their Negligees made of floating chiffon – instead of plain flour sack nightgowns! I worked with a lady of a certain age and status who dreamily told us of the beautiful negligees her late husband bestowed on her for every occasion. She was dead set on wearing a Pale Blue Chiffon number at the viewing of her Casket lined in Pale Blue Satin! Southerners  love to dream of their Swan Song outfits– it’s biblical- we’re just going to sleep when we Pass over Jordan’s Stormy Banks, so why not wear lingerie in caskets covered with roses, gladiolas and lilies?

The first women settlers were said to be horrified that there was no refined white flour, so they set about making corn soufflé, shrimp bisque, meringues, tomato aspic and sauces we now call gravy-even our casseroles definitely have a French Influence. The Redneck Red Eye Gravy is actually an au jus! My grandmother was very proud of her French heritage and insisted on being called Mimi instead of MeeMaw- she was adamant that her great grandchildren to call her Gigi.image

The uncouth men who first brought these women into a southern corn fed land, were no doubt pressured into getting White Flour here as soon as possible! We want our-

  • Biscuits to be high and light
  •  Piecrusts to be light and flaky
  • Airy Chiffon and Angel Food cakes and puffy Meringues
  • Southern Pecan Pralines, Beignets and Dreamy Divinity.

While generations of women might have had to depend on canned crescent rolls- we were dreamin’ of Croissants! And oh my! Palmiers! Now, the truth is the name for this pastry confection is derived from the shape of a Palm Leaf- but folks have to redneck it down to Elephant Ears or fancy it up by calling them Butterfly cookies- but please call these crisp buttery puff pastry delicacies by the right name! Palmiers.image

I love Palmiers so much I actually make 18-20 dozen for Christmas! That precious Barefoot Contessa has a wonderful recipe for Palmiers, but I cannot resist gilding the lily by taking the baked Palmiers and dipping them again in melted butter-then in sugar. I bake them again to attain a very crisp Palmier that is perfect with coffee or tea. I will post a link to Ina Garten’s recipe for Palmiers at the end- just know that after they are baked, mine are dipped, sugared and baked again! image

Ok y’all, I’ve got to package these up. I’ve nipped one too many- I’m in danger of gaining too much weight to fit into my Swan Song Burial Negligee to Pass Over Jordan. Don’t depend on Julia Childs for the Art of French cooking- the South already has that down pat! Please add to my list of Southern French names, places and food- we all know there is a definite French Influence in South! Bon Voyage and Bon Appetit !

Love y’all, Camellia

Barefoot Contessa PalmiersBarefoot Contessa’s Palmiers Other Palmiers were made by me yesterday! Funeral flowers funeral flowers  Image of St. Francis at the Point was taken by me at Point Clear Alabama. Image of meringue topped banana pudding- AOL images- may be copyrighted but the one that is embellished with meringue, caramel and whipped cream was taken by me at Buck’s Diner in Fairhope! Fountain and Wrought Iron Chair were taken at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, the closeup fountain was taken in the little French Quarter in Fairhope! Elvis, Porter Waggoner, Jerry Lee Lewis are AOL images and may be subject to copyright- the photos of Merle Haggard and Duane Eddy were taken by me from vintage albums we own. Shrimp boat was taken just last week in Bon Secour Bay.

Tacky or Tasteful #3…

image

The South is a Matriarchal society. There’s a reason our Daddies said, ‘Ask your momma’. For all our feminine clothes and flirting…it’s true y’all, Southern Women are ‘Steel Magnolias’, who rule the roost with an Iron Hand whether the Roost is the size of the Chicken coop or a Big House on a hill. They insisted on- Tradition, Tact and Taste- otherwise their families would erode into Tacky or even worse- Trashy. They knew that classic dressing would last- if you had a Nice Black Dress and a Good White Blouse- you could dress Tastefully whether you had a fortune or lost one.

A whole lot of us, including me, wore a mix of new, homemade and hand-me-down clothing. We were not poor, I just had an older sister. If garments were well made and classic, they stood the test of time. Then there were some who learned the art of Tasteful Fashion by association with friends who had Mothers who insisted that Dressin’ Decent was the right thing to do. It boiled down to self respect and respect for others. I still believe this. I can never forget hearin’ our mommas say– ‘Always leave something to the imagination darlin’

So, to end Fashion Week at Camellia’s Cottage, let’s talk Accessories and more…

  • Pearls
  • A Good Watch
  • A Nice Pocketbook
  • Monograms
  • Sunglasses, Diamond Studs and Lipstick

Some of us come from the school of wearing a Single Strand of Pearls- others like to pile them on! I’m with Chanel who wore ropes and ropes of them! Nothing dresses up the neckline of a blouse or a simple dress like Pearls. Just don’t wear your pearls on your wedding day – my grandmother thought wearing pearls on your wedding day signified a string of troubles! Though that is not a proven fact.

A good Watch, whether it’s Cartier or Timex sets off any outfit casual or dressy. Our mommas wanted us to have a Watch because they expected us to be on time– for school, work and get home when we were supposed to! jackie-kennedy-vintage-cartier-black-turtleneck

A Nice Pocketbook is always a necessity. Let’s face it- if Queen Elizabeth thinks carryin’ a pocketbook is the right thing to do- who’s gonna argue with her? The Fashion Icons carried them too!

Monograms-Give a Southern Woman a blank surface of fabric and we can figure out how to monogram it! Several years ago- I inherited a mink stroller from my friend’s mother – on the inside her name had been monogrammed. In the South, if we ever get a cool snap, we’ll throw on a fur coat- real or faux- with jeans or our finery. However, after inheriting the mink stroller, to be honest I never had the occasion to wear it until our family flew to Montreal one winter– I wore it on the plane. Of course I was burning up! I looked down and saw Sybil’s name monogrammed inside and immediately was horrified thinking- if that plane crashed- they would think Sybil had died all over again! I love monograms.  Monogrammed handkerchiefs, scarves and jewelry are classic.monogrammed-silver-bracelet

A great pair of Sunglasses can take you anywhere! Not only do they stave off cataracts at the beach, but protect the delicate skin around your eyes and are a touch of glamour! The Fashion Icons agree!

Hold onto that thought… because I am about to share some well kept secrets

Diamond Studs, real or faux, are appropriate for young ladies and the ah…Southern Belles who are aging gracefully. I’ll never forget when chandelier earrings became fashionable- a Southern Mother told her daughter-‘Ruth Anne, the only appropriate place for chandeliers to hang are from the ceiling!‘ The truth is- wearing earrings is fun when  you’re young…but when it comes time to get a job? Listen to the Southern Mothers- ‘Nobody’s gonna hire you if all they notice are those earbobs janglin’ around!’ Wear Diamond studs instead. Now,hang in there with me… Think- Sunglasses, Diamond Studs and Red Lipstick! 

The truth is- Red Lipstick in all of it’s varied shades is the most classic pick of all timeRed Revival from Maybelline™ and. Cherries in the Snow from Revlon™ are all time favorites. Red Revival on the left- Cherries in the Snow on the left. Both have that Hollywood glamour!

 Diamond Studs bring sparkle up higher on your face, actually brighten the eyes and detract from fine lines! For those times when you wouldn’t be caught dead actually getting out of the car but need to scoot to the drive thru window at the bank-Sunglasses and Red Lipstick are a lifesaver. And finally, darlin’ …if you are gonna inflict your bare feet on the general public- please paint those toenails Red!

I can’t resist showing you my ever glamourous friend, Lorrie- she’s worn Red Revival Lipstick for years!morton-tims-event-1-029

Oh, I’ve had so much fun laughing with you during our Fashion Week at Camellia’s Cottage. Don’t be Tacky, be Tasteful in all you do! Of course we’ll never run out of advice from our Southern Mothers!

Love y’all, Camellia

The top photograph is from my friend Paula’s personal collection. The bottom photograph is from my personal collection. Other images are from AOL and may be subject to copyright.

Tacky or Tasteful #2…

image

It’s Fashion Week here at Camellia’s Cottage! This is our second installment of Tacky or Tasteful? Every Southern Mother despairs of her children looking Tacky- it reflects badly on her and of course can send her to bed with a case of the vapors. We discussed the basic solid Tasteful colors of Black, White, Gray and Red, however there are Tasteful Fabrics and Prints which are suitable for a Southern lady’s wardrobe. The most highly prized fabrics are natural or natch-ral as we pronounce it.

Cotton– We know cotton, we raise it. Think thread count and fine gauge here. The heavier the cotton fabric, well-the more coarse and common it is. While we have made allowances for Denim- because let’s face it, Denim helps our economy; it should be noted that Denim was considered the Fabric of Laborers. No Southern Lady worth her salt wanted anyone to actually know that she even broke a sweat, much less owned a pair of Denim Jeans. We have evolved on this point, now a good pair of Dress Jeans and a pair of White Jeans make up a part of the must-haves in the Southern Wardrobe. Though, let’s leave off those Denim Overalls once you get out of Kindergarten.

Wool – Southerners love wool, at least the idea of wool-the problem is the heat so we have to go for fine gauge wools and menswear fabrics, that have a nice drape. A nice pair of slacks, a sharply creased pleated skirt or a well cut pencil skirt. A cashmere or camel hair dress coat- now you’re getting the Southern territory.  Whole conversations and exclamations have occurred about wool-

  • ‘Now honey you know you can’t wear that boucle jacket – it makes you look thick’
  • ‘Why in the world would you get a Harris Tweed jacket? Did you get accepted to Harvard?’
  • Get the Heather Sweater, you’ll look like one of the Von Trapps in it.’

So, think fine gauge in boucles, tweeds and more rustic wools that are strengthened with good silk linings.

Silk– just don’t get me started here…Shirtwaist dresses, blouses, suits, scarves and silk linings.  Silk seemed like the ultimate luxury fabric to our Southern Mothers. Lingerie drawers full of silk gowns and undergarments. We especially love raw silk- which is nubbier with a stiffness that is appropriate for suits and sheath dresses. We do love silk- though there is rarely a mention that one stain and the whole garment is ruined for life.

Velvet– Southern women have always loved cotton velvet. We love the feel of it- go for lightweight as it can add bulk unless you are skinny as a rail.  Jackets, Sheath dresses, hostess skirts, collars or piping on wool coats, vests and even in our homes-  Where do you think Scarlett got the idea to make that devastating velvet dress when Tara was a broken wreck?scarlettcurtain-dress

Linen – is highly prized in the South. Even though it wrinkles beforeyou walk out the door, sit down or bend an elbow, Linen wrinkles but a Southern Mother will tell you- ‘Why honey, that’s how folks will know it’s real linen.’ Women have been known to use up a case of Spray Starch getting the wrinkles out of linen, only to get it wrinkled just in the act of buttoning it up. We love our natch-ral Linen. I have a friend who gets so excited when she ‘gets out her linen’ We want to have our Linen from Easter to September.

The truth is most of our Southern mommas preferred solid colors as classics, however there are some classic Patterned Fabrics-that can be either Tacky or Tasteful-

Gingham

  • Houndstooth
  • Plaids
  • Stripes
  • Animal Prints

Cotton is our top fabric of course- we have an ancestral attachment to it. Gingham is tricky though. Our mommas thought a baby must be six months old before wearing gingham and then it must be the tiniest possible gingham. Checks get gradually larger as Southern Women age…with a reasonable cutoff however. We don’t want to look like a Tablecloth at a Picnic! Gingham is perfect for picnics, field trips and going to the farmer’s market.jackiebw-classic-gingham

 

Houndstooth (as long as it is of a reasonable size) Big ol’ Houndstooth is never acceptable if the teeth on it are as big as your daddy’s hound dog. The one exception is a Bear Bryant Houndstooth Hat- go hog wild Bama Fans!

John and Jacqueline Kennedy arrive to attend a mass in Middleburg, VA, 4/9/61.

Plaid– Classic, especially if the plaid is your Family Tartan, real or imagined. Scale is important to tastefully wearing plaid. Don’t put on some big loud plaid that looks like the upholstery in an RV or a Recliner at the hunting camp. No seamstress in the state could match at the seams of a loud plaid. Now that’s Tacky. Tartans are tasteful, darlin’a-hepburn-classic-plaid

Striped clothing is considered Nautical and therefore classic. Coco Chanel was inspired to design women’s clothing after she noticed some handsome sailors on shore leave. Chanel saw the potential and the comfort of striped knits- ever since Southern Women have loved our Stripes.

Animal Prints– a warning here: Southern Mothers reserved animal prints reserved for the more mature woman. We would certainly never want our southern daughters to look wild in any way.. use touches of animal prints- a scarf, a blouse, a collar or a cardigan. Animal prints can either look exotic or tacky- you surely don’t want to end up looking like the Flintstones. Now that would be Tacky. If you’re determined to walk on the wild side- do it Tastefully, like Jackie.jackie-kennedy-fur-animal-print

As Fashion Week continues at Camellia’s Cottage-Remember in all of these fabrics and prints- scale, weight and quality are what our Southern Mothers were trying to instill in us all. The Fashion Icons agree.

Love y’all, Camellia

Top photo is a photograph of a friend’s mother lunching with a friend at the Waldorf Astoria NYC- many years ago. Other images are from AOL images and may be copyrighted.

Tacky or Tasteful?

cafe1-vintage-womenYou should know the difference between looking Tacky or being Tastefully dressed almost from birth in the South. Southern Mothers take it as a personal insult if the children aren’t dressed right. You will hear things like:

  • What was her Momma thinking lettin’ Savannah Jo leave the house like that?
  • How could she put that baby in blue jeans- not even out of the bassinet!
  • As pale as Mary Beth is- her momma should have known she couldn’t wear that yellow next to her face- it’s just plain tacky.
  • Well, she obviously wasn’t raised right.

To help you avoid comments like this from getting back to you, I have declared it Fashion Week at Camellia’s Cottage. For the first installment- I have compiled a Basic List of what is considered appropriate and Tasteful so you can avoid being labelled Tacky– that is unless you are specifically invited to a Tacky Party.

  • Pearls are a mainstay of a Tasteful wardrobe. These can be real or cultured– a southern lady must be both real and cultured.
  • When a young lady is old enough to consume alcohol or becomes eligible to vote – Tasteful Ladies wear Black, White, Gray and Red– almost exclusively in fact.
  • Natural Linen, Navy and Cream are also considered classic- especially if you mix them with the Tasteful colors, Black, White, Gray or Red.
  • To veer away too sharply is to risk looking Tacky.Do not ever wear Off or Muddy colors, it just reeks of Iron Water in the washing machine. There are some who can pull these colors off, just know that these women are considered Bohemian.
  • Camellia Pink is a color some Strong Southern Women can pull off.
  • Yellow and Green do funny things to the skin tone when worn close to the face. No one wants a green or yellow cast to the skin, it’s Tacky and  makes you look sick.
  • Brighter colors are considered Cruise Wear or when you want to have a little Fun in Spring or Summer.
  • It is acceptable to wear your SEC Football Team Colors all year round regardless of the colors- this is considered Patriotic and your Duty as a True Fan.
  • If you want to add a little Zip to your Wardrobe- wear a Scarf or carefully selected Accessories.

To avoid looking Tacky- Every Well Dressed Southern Lady must own

  1.  A Black Turtleneck
  2. Two well cut Blouses in Black and White
  3.  A Traditional Pencil Skirt or Pleated Skirt if your figure will allow for it
  4. A well cut pair of Black Pants
  5.  Sweater Set in the Tasteful colors
  6. A good pair of White Pants
  7. At least one Sheath Dress in the Tasteful colors
  8. A Decent Black Dress is acceptable for evening and for funerals and is a Fashion Must Have in the South.
  9. A Chanel Inspired Suit
  10. A Black Winter Coat and since you will wear this maybe once or twice per year in the South, make sure it is made of Cashmere or Wool, then stored in moth balls. Jackie In Belfast

Finally, if you lacked training from a Southern Mother, look to the Fashion Icons– even if most of them are Yankees. You can’t go wrong with Jackie, Grace, Audrey and Coco-

A New York City Shopping Trip is considered part of a civilized young lady’s upbringingParis if you’re at leisure and flush with cash; Atlanta if you find yourself strapped for cash or time.shopping-in-nyc-vintage

Look for upcoming installments of Fashion Week at Camellia’s Cottage for Tasteful Advice on makeup, accessories, nautical wear and more…We can’t have you looking Tacky!

Love y’all, Camellia

Images are from AOL and may be copyrighted.