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.
M-J de Mesterton in Aquascutum Tweed Suit, Her Perennial Favourite
Rugged, traditional, and elegant tweed made from Scottish wool is the best material for fall and winter dressing. Easily covered with a trench-coat or embellished with a pashmina or long wool scarves, tweed will keep you warm and dry. Tweed suits, skirts, trousers and jackets are always fashionable.
My husband and I found it odd, if not historically-incorrect, to see the inhabitants of Downton Abbey wearing sleeveless flapper dresses all over the huge, inevitably cold and difficult-to-heat house, at all hours, without wraps or sweaters. Those dresses were made to be worn at nightclubs while dancing the Charleston, where hyper-activity and body-heat of the crowd made it possible to stay warm while baring arms.
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
Remember normal-sized clothing for women, before the fashion industry started distorting sizing in order to flatter the anorexia cult? Standard sizing no longer exists, as a dress with a 36-inch bust is now labelled as anything between size 4 and size 14, depending upon whom the maker is targeting. And yesterday’s size 12 is now disrespected by some by being labelled “plus” for the purpose of charging more for it. Some of the styles offered by Bergdorf Goodman in 1948 started at size 12, and went up to size 20. Originally, “plus sizes” were anything above size twenty. In 1948, this black silk dress was offered at Bergdorf Goodman in sizes 10–20. If a woman wanted something smaller, she had to shop in the children’s section. Click Here to Read M-J’s Latest Elegant Survivalist Posts
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This 1935 musical film featuring the music of Jerome Kern is still relevant today. The elegant Irene Dunn sings “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and, as a Russian princess who is part of the post-Bolshevik revolution diaspora, performs, in her angelic style, a Russian ballad with her brother, a prince who is working as an elevator-operator in Paris. There are complications galore in this tragic-comic story, as well as some remarkable dance-numbers by Fred Astaire and the hilarious Ginger Rogers. Elegant Survival readers are likely to appreciate the fashion-critiques by the two main male characters, played by Randolph Scott and the ever-natty Fred Astaire.
Why not eschew the modern strapless evening dresses/corsets with long trains that are now standard in the wedding business and adopt a classic, elegant, dignified style for your bridal gown? Following the crowd is not wise. That which is in fashion right now may make one cringe in the future. Brides of refinement and good breeding, women of high station in life have traditionally worn bridal gowns with long sleeves and elegant, high collars. Here is Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp in the Sound of Music, wearing a gorgeous wedding dress that looks right for any decade:
Note that this elegant wedding dress has a figure-flattering shape while bearing none of the tacky, complicated embellishments that often find their way onto the most important garb of a woman’s life. If it is now impossible to locate a ready-made bridal gown of dignity and taste, there are patterns available from which one may be made. See below for two tasteful bridal gown patterns.