M-J’s 15-year-Old Classic Sweater by Red and Blue of Milan, Bought at an Italian Tailor Shop: Sir Roger Moore Wore the “Same” Sweater Several Times in His 1970s Series, “The Persuaders”, with Tony Curtis
This elegant, double-breasted classic sweater by Red and Blue of Milan looks superb on all sides! It has brass buttons on its cuffs and front. The sweater is versatile charcoal grey and rib-knitted, just like Sir Roger’s. It even has double vents in the back.
Above: M-J de Mesterton in a Tibbett Duffel Coat of Elysian Wool, Insulated Aigle Boots from France; a Mongolian Cashmere Scarf by Johnstons of Elgin, Scotland; a White Fox Hat Made in Helsinki; a Plaid Tweed Skirt, Black Leather Cashmere-Lined Gloves from Italy, and a Walking Stick Made of Scotch Broom
Wear warm clothes when it’s cold outside and inside. The days of women showing their bare arms year-round just because an occupant of the White House does it to show off her biceps are coming to a close in about three weeks. The current president has, since 2009, kept the oval office at a balmy 85° year-round, as though he were in Hawai’i, while instructing the citizenry to “tighten your belts”. The rest of us, if we have heat at all, keep our places at 68° or even cooler, thanks to the punitive cost of fuel.
Above: on Christmas Day, I’m wearing a turtleneck under a round-necked dress, nylon stockings, a silk & cashmere pashmina, and faux-fur-lined tall leather boots. Most winter days, I’d be wearing tweed and sweaters.
Rugged, traditional, and elegant tweed made from Scottish wool is the best material for fall and winter dressing. Easily covered with a trench-coat or embellished with a pashmina or long wool scarves, tweed will keep you warm and dry. Tweed suits, skirts, trousers and jackets are always fashionable.
My husband and I found it odd, if not historically-incorrect, to see the inhabitants of Downton Abbey wearing sleeveless flapper dresses all over the huge, inevitably cold and difficult-to-heat house, at all hours, without wraps or sweaters. Those dresses were made to be worn at nightclubs while dancing the Charleston, where hyper-activity and body-heat of the crowd made it possible to stay warm while baring arms.
Dining at Downton: thanks to cocktails, aperitifs and wines, scantily-clad ladies there could abide the evening without shivering. Or maybe not; Ralph Lauren designed wardrobes for the series, and may have just assumed that women dressed like flappers in most situations because it was the Roaring Twenties. I doubt that 1920s women were so silly, but there have always been nonsensical followers of fashion, like the ones who are now wearing peep-toed shoes without stockings all winter long in cold climates. My grandmother, who was born in the Victorian Age, told me that to be beautiful, one must suffer–I know that freezing’s not what she meant. Even body-heat from large groups at table does not take the chill off England’s grand country houses for most months of the year; shoulders are usually covered with something at dinner, such as a little fur garment or shawl that could be removed later in the evening for dancing. And no self-respecting woman would be standing about the house during winter in just a sleeveless gown.
Speaking of winter dressing and silly followers of fashion, here is a post that I made here at Elegant Survival News in December, 2011:
Why is the anchorwoman wearing a sleeveless summer dress in cold NYC on December 6th? Are biceps something that female talking heads suddenly find a crying need to bare, even in freezing temperatures? Are they using too much energy, in an effort to keep tropically warm indoors? Is it seasonally appropriate to wear bare-toed shoes on wintry days, as the woman in red is doing, or sandals (the first lady wore sandals at a Kennedy Center gala last weekend) in December? I don’t think so. These women are on a national television show, displaying their irresponsible, energy-inefficient lifestyles before the public, as if to say that a size XXX carbon-footprint is desirable. The rest of us are wearing wool and tweed, living in homes with little-or-no heat most of the time.
In an Alpine Climate, January: Dressing in Furry Boots, a Scottish Hand-Made Fair Isle Sweater, and an Austrian Wool Skirt
Elegant Clothing Can Last for Decades If You Care for It Properly
My silk Sulka dressing gown was purchased on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue at their shop in the 1980s. It has always been protected from moths and bright sunlight, and thus is in excellent condition. Learn to enhance the longevity of your precious clothing. Here are some tips from our friend, eminent tailor Monsieur François:
CLOTHING CARE TIPS
Implementing some of the following procedures will go a long way in helping you protect and extend the life of your garments:
Dry clean your garments sparingly. Frequent cleanings can actually cause your garments to prematurely wear because of the solvents and heat that are used in the dry cleaning process. Consider dry cleaning only when necessary or, at the end of the season before storing. After cleaning, garments should be removed from the plastic bags and aired.
Limit the use of fabric softeners. They contain additives that stick to your clothing to make them feel softer. Unfortunately, frequent usage of these softeners will also compromise the fabric’s absorbency and make them less breathable.
Use padded or shaped hangers as they are more gentle on your garments than wire ones. Uncoated wire hangers may also rust and stain your clothes.
Avoid hanging your coats and jackets on racks or hooks, which may cause the neck areas to stretch out of shape.
Give your wool garments a day’s rest between wearings, allowing them to shed wrinkles and return to their original shape.
Fold knitted garments instead of hanging them, to prevent distortion or stretching.
Brush your garments regularly and thoroughly to refresh them, removing any soil, hair, etc. Use a slightly damp sponge or cloth on knits and finer fabrics.
Always read the label on your garment for specific washing-instructions.
Allow deodorants and antiperspirants to thoroughly dry before you dress. Also, consider using dress-shields to your garments to protect them against excessive perspiration, which can weaken certain fabrics.
All garments should be either laundered or dry cleaned prior to storage. This step is not only essential, but will prevent attracting moths.
Never store your jackets or garments in plastic bags. They create limited air flow which may trap moisture and cause mildew to form. Plastic bags may even cause leathers and suedes to dry out. Use canvas or cloth bags instead.
Select a storage area carefully, avoiding those with high temperatures and/or high humidity.
To revive your clothes when you have removed them from storage: first air out the garments thoroughly and then either brush them and/or lightly pass a garment steamer over them to remove any wrinkles or creases and to perk them up. Air the clothes thoroughly after these procedures, and before putting them into your closet.
Clarks offers elegant shoes for ladies with good taste, in comfortable, classic styles. After years of women’s shoes with closed toes being all but extinct elsewhere on the shoe-shopping landscape, Clarks Indigo and Diamond lines persist in showing more style than skin.
My new site may be found here: ELEGANT SURVIVALIST–please visit it for regular updates on elegant dressing, elegant living, elegant cuisine, elegant gardening, elegant culture, basic survival tips and all things elegant.
See examples of how to dress elegantly, by the writer who brought Classic, Elegant Dressing to you in 2006. In her latest Elegant Dressing blog, M-J de Mesterton gives explanations of style, instructive photographs, and recommendations for accessories, directing tasteful readers to currently-available, elegant clothes.
A well-made shirt can cost $500.00 or more. That is an investment to protect. Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Ideally, one would hang shirts on a clothesline, upside down, with clothespins. This keeps pinch-marks off the important areas of your shirts. The sun will dry them in no time. Alternatively, one could hang them indoors, perhaps out-of-sight behind the the shower curtain, on hangers. A sturdy spring-rod, placed inside the shower area for the purpose of hanging clothes to dry will not interfere with your existing shower-rod. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt, which will die an angry death before its time. My husband and I have shirts from France and England that are twenty years old, and in perfect condition.
An electric, energy-consuming dryer is an enemy to high-quality clothing. In fact, dryers shrink clothes and wear them out quickly; lint is composed of fibers that a machine robs from your clothes. You’d be surprised at how swiftly shirts dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, they’re easy to iron. In cases of stubborn collar and cuff soil, when hand-scrubbing fails, you can still wash your white shirts in hot water, soap, and a little bleach if necessary, as long as they are rinsed well, and then hung to dry. (Bleach alternative may be a better choice, if you can get it to work on stubborn stains.) Bleach is to be used only after stain-removal steps like soaking in Zote soap or Octagon (shirtmaker Alexander Kabbaz recommends Octagon for hand-washing his works of art) have been attempted without success. Always use as little bleach as possible, diluted before adding to wash-water, and only on white shirts. Bleach has a corrosive effect on your shirt’s fibers. The sun will do some natural bleaching of white cotton. Save costly energy and prolong the life of your shirts by hand-washing and sun-drying them.
Giving your precious shirts to a dry-cleaner or other laundry service is wasteful. They crush buttons and machine-dry the poor things. Do clothes hanging on a line outdoors conjure up bad images for you? Too bad, because it is one of life’s simple luxuries to be able to dry a beautiful, well-made shirt in the sun–some of the best people do it. Believe me, it’s not remotely infradig to care for your own shirts. After all, who cares for them more than you do?
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