Elegant Winter Dressing with M-J

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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

PUBLISHED in DECEMBER, 2016: 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.

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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.

Elegant Dressing for Autumn: Classic Tweed Travelling Suit
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.

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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:

Talking Heads Clad Badly and Barely-Shod

Summer Dress and Peep-Toe Shoes in December?!

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

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The Best Serious Down Parka for Ladies

Superior parkas for winter survival from Eddie Bauer: Weatheredge Superior Parkas, since 1941, providing complete protection from cold, water and wind.

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Health-Enhancing Blueberries

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Blueberries contain vitamins A and C, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium, are high in fiber and low in calories. The USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) has ranked blueberries at the very top of antioxidant activity within a range of forty-one fruits and vegetables.

Blueberries are rich in natural health-enhancers, including vitamin C,  vitamin A, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium. They also have many antioxidant properties, and help in the prevention of:

Blueberries have recently acquired a reputation for enhancing one’s cardiovascular health, and their antioxidants naturally help in the prevention of cancer. Recent research has added to the blueberry’s list of powerful properties.

Metabolic syndrome, or pre-diabetes, is exhibited in those with a particular combination of health anomalies,  including larger-than-normal  amounts of abdominal fat, elevated blood-sugar, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides. Together, those conditions are likely to cause diabetes, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

Laboratory-rats that for 90 days consumed blueberry-enriched powder as two percent of their diet had less abdominal fat, lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol, and improved fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity than the control-group, who had no blueberry component in their diets.

Blueberry ingestion was determined to have a positive affect on specific genes related to fat-burning and fat-storage.  Where muscle tissue is concerned,  alterations in genes related to glucose-uptake were discovered to have been caused by the intake of blueberries.

Research also indicated that “metabolic syndrome” is  caused not only by abdominal fat, as previously believed by the medical industry, but by insulin resistance in one’s skeletal muscle system, an anomaly which alters energy-storage and causes metabolic syndrome.

Eating blueberries can help to prevent insulin-resistance, lower the related belly-fat, reduce cholesterol levels, and its numerous antioxidants can help to stave-off age-related brain disorders.

Blueberries  contain an antioxidant compound called pterostilbene, a compound similar to resveratrol, which has been found to reduce cholesterol as well as dangerous prescription drugs.

Just as dried cherries do, blueberries, when added to ground beef before cooking, help reduce the formation of  cancer-causing heterocyclic amines (HCA).

In Europe, the bilberry has most of the same properties as the blueberry. One of the many things they have in common is anthocyanin, the substance that makes them blue, which is beneficial to the cardiovascular system and is believed to lower blood-pressure. Bilberries have been used to enhance eyesight since World War 11, when pilots who ate bilberry jam attributed their improved night-vision to the tiny fruit. Bilberries are also said to aid in relief of varicose veins and gum-disease as they promote healthy circulation. Caution must be taken with bilberries by those who are taking blood-thinnning drugs, as they are a natural blood-thinner.

Blueberries can be added to a morning smoothie that you make with yogurt in a blender, together with whatever other fruits you have in stock. Frozen blueberries can be much less expensive than fresh ones, easier to store, and retain most of their antioxidant properties. When used in a smoothie, frozen blueberries make it ice-cold (see my photograph). This preparation makes a health-promoting breakfast, and is delicious as well. Staying well is the best thing you can do in this ailing world.

©M-J de Mesterton

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M-J’s Blueberry Smoothie for Surviving Influenza Season
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