Entertaining in Style

I recently read an interview with Naeem Khan where he described some of the tricks he uses for entertaining at home.  Khan is a designer, born in India, whose clothes are sold in Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.  Khan loves to cook and sometimes entertains three times a week.  His philosophy is quite simple and easy for the novice to adapt.

  1. Kahn loves simplicity – no glitz.  He often uses touches of bright colors such as fuchsia or orange in placemats and napkins in his Miami apartment, which he says; compliment the blue sky and seascape.  If he uses the bright colors, he chooses stark white dishes.
  2. Candles are often used for table decorations.  He will line up or make a circle of candles of different heights in the center of the table.  They should not be scented as that could detract from the fragrance of the food.
  3. Fresh flowers add elegance.   One trick Kahn uses to avoid buying several bouquets of flowers is to buy a few peonies, break them apart and scatter the petals over the dining and living room tables.
  4. If available, you can get large leaves from your garden and use them as placemats.
  5. Food is served in small portions so there is space between each item.  When the servings are touching each other on the plate, the appearance is not nearly as harmonious.  He described how amazing it looks when he serves one kebab on a white, oversized plate with a dot of cilantro chutney.
  6. Kahn does all of the cooking in advance so he has time to enjoy his guests.  This allows for him to make each guest feel important and to facilitate interaction among the guests.
  7. Finally, this great host greets everyone at the door with a special cocktail that he makes from coconut milk and pureed kumquats.   The point is not the unique cocktail but that each guest feels as though the host has been eagerly anticipating their arrival.

Just adapting a few of these ideas can catapult you into a memorable hostess!

Denim – Love It or Hate It

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal recently by writer Daniel Askt, excoriating jeans.  I found it rather amusing and moved on – until I read a follow-up article by George Will, columnist for The Washington Post.  Will quoted Mr. Askt’s assertion that the wearing of denim by men, women and children is “the modern trend toward undifferentiated dressing, in which we all strive to look equally shabby”.  Ouch!  Will even suggested that those who wear jeans might suffer from deep disorders.

I’m sure Levi Strauss would be shocked to see the popularity of his invention.  He moved to San Francisco during the Gold Rush and introduced his strong, durable, fabric to the miners to be used for tents and wagon covers.  Ultimately, he made tough pants, reinforced with rivets to serve the miners in their muddy work of panning for gold along the creeks and rivers.    Levis evolved to be used in other types of work.  I remember stories from my dad, a rancher in Oregon, that in the earlier part of the 20th century, ranchers wore Levis exclusively (anyone wearing any other brand was looked down upon).  Likewise, real men did not ever wash their Levis – they ultimately just wore out and were replaced by a new pair.

We obviously live in a very different world today.   City-dwellers who have never roped a calf or kneeled along a riverbank wear jeans any chance they get.  Last fall when we were in the South of France, the most common costume for European men was designer jeans, a well-pressed dress shirt, often worn with the tail out or tucked in with a linen blazer.  This look reflected a casual dressiness that fit the setting perfectly.   Women were not as commonly seen in the ubiquitous dress but jeans were certainly evident.

I especially like jeans in black or white.  If the weave of the fabric is a bit finer, it gives a dressier look while offering the comfort of jeans with a more up-scale appearance.

In my opinion, sloppiness catapults the jean-look into unacceptable.  If you are working in the yard, changing the oil in your car or spreading asphalt, sloppy, torn jeans and an unkempt T- shirt make sense.  If you are going to dinner or a movie, they are unacceptable.   Nor do I like the jeans that are deliberately distressed while costing you twice the price because of all the labor that goes into wearing them out before you ever put them on your body.  Perhaps for teenagers, it is okay but once adulthood is reached, I prefer to see people dressed as adults.

Another caution for the jeans crowd is fit.  If one is a plus size, jeans are not the best choice.   Well fitting jeans are most attractive but there is no way they can fit well sliding under a big stomach.   Ladies with a triangle or pear shape should avoid jeans as well unless they are cut with a very wide leg.  When trousers hug the leg from the hip down as jeans do, it only accentuates how wide the hips are does the wearer no service.

We have come a long way from only the bad boys such as James Dean and Marlon Brando sporting their jeans and a T-shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled up on the sleeve, however, I think we have gone too far.  I prefer to see jeans in casual settings, always clean, neat and well fitting.   For the opera, symphony or a nice dinner out, let’s kick it up a notch.

Animal Prints

 

Last week fashion reporter Teri Agins of the Wall Street Journal, responded to a reader’s question.  I thought you might find it interesting in it’s entirety.

Question:  I am north of 40 years old, and want desperately to wear animal prints this spring.  But I don’t want to look terribly trendy –or too young.  What is the best way for me to integrate one of the hottest looks of the season into any wardrobe?  L.L., New York City

Answer:  In recent years, the malls have been full of animal–print pencil skirts, blouses, shoes, and handbags.  These timeless, abstract prints – such as leopard, tiger and snakeskin patterns – are neutral and versatile enough to be combined with black, brown, red and even purple.

I happen to love animal prints because the designs look lush and urbane – absolutely perfect for women of all ages.  Even the cheapest T-shirt top or scarf in a leopard print packs a punch and imparts a bold accent.

But take care when donning these jungle patterns.  Go easy, with simpler jewelry.  In clothes, stick with smaller patterns that won’t make you look thick.

Every gal should have a pair of animal-print pumps and a handbag – just don’t wear them together.  Handbagheaven.com is one retailer that offers many affordable animal-print bags, which are much fresher than standard black or brown purses.

“Animal prints are one of those novelties that women are enthusiastic about, and they always sell out quickly every season,” says Edward Wilkerson, designer for women’s label Lafayette 148.  The call of the wild from Lafayette 148 this spring includes: a “zebra” pony-skin jacket and a leopard-printed silk blouse and pencil skirt.  “We keep them looking new with colors, like a tiger print against a fuchsia background or leopard with cobalt blue,” he says.

Beryl’s comments:  I thought you would enjoy this article, as we have not discussed animal-prints for spring.  I don’t think animal prints are for everyone.  Having just an accent, perhaps a scarf, shoes or bag could work for most people.     When you move to a blouse or jacket, watch the scale of the print and color contrast.  A zebra print will only work if the wearer has strong coloring, strong personality and a strong presence.   Animal prints are quite forceful and can easily overpower a small person or someone with a quiet, reserved personality.  Use the “blink” test when choosing whether this is a look for you.  Standing in front of the mirror, close your eyes for a few moments then open them quickly and observe what you see first.  If you see you first then recognize that you are wearing an animal print, it probably will work.  If you see the print first, it is too strong.

Happy hunting!

Animal Prints

 

Last week fashion reporter Teri Agins of the Wall Street Journal, responded to a reader’s question.  I thought you might find it interesting in it’s entirety.

Question:  I am north of 40 years old, and want desperately to wear animal prints this spring.  But I don’t want to look terribly trendy –or too young.  What is the best way for me to integrate one of the hottest looks of the season into any wardrobe?  L.L., New York City

Answer:  In recent years, the malls have been full of animal–print pencil skirts, blouses, shoes, and handbags.  These timeless, abstract prints – such as leopard, tiger and snakeskin patterns – are neutral and versatile enough to be combined with black, brown, red and even purple.

I happen to love animal prints because the designs look lush and urbane – absolutely perfect for women of all ages.  Even the cheapest T-shirt top or scarf in a leopard print packs a punch and imparts a bold accent.

But take care when donning these jungle patterns.  Go easy, with simpler jewelry.  In clothes, stick with smaller patterns that won’t make you look thick.

Every gal should have a pair of animal-print pumps and a handbag – just don’t wear them together.  Handbagheaven.com is one retailer that offers many affordable animal-print bags, which are much fresher than standard black or brown purses.

“Animal prints are one of those novelties that women are enthusiastic about, and they always sell out quickly every season,” says Edward Wilkerson, designer for women’s label Lafayette 148.  The call of the wild from Lafayette 148 this spring includes: a “zebra” pony-skin jacket and a leopard-printed silk blouse and pencil skirt.  “We keep them looking new with colors, like a tiger print against a fuchsia background or leopard with cobalt blue,” he says.

Beryl’s comments:  I thought you would enjoy this article, as we have not discussed animal-prints for spring.  I don’t think animal prints are for everyone.  Having just an accent, perhaps a scarf, shoes or bag could work for most people.     When you move to a blouse or jacket, watch the scale of the print and color contrast.  A zebra print will only work if the wearer has strong coloring, strong personality and a strong presence.   Animal prints are quite forceful and can easily overpower a small person or someone with a quiet, reserved personality.  Use the “blink” test when choosing whether this is a look for you.  Standing in front of the mirror, close your eyes for a few moments then open them quickly and observe what you see first.  If you see you first then recognize that you are wearing an animal print, it probably will work.  If you see the print first, it is too strong.

Happy hunting!