5 Ways to Style a Spring Transition Wardrobe…

0293CC97-4C79-440D-AC0A-DB0E6E985787Late winter and early spring always brings fickle weather which presents wardrobe challenges too! If there was ever a time to shop our own closets- it’s in the transition seasons. One dreary days several weeks ago, one thing to remember- it’s still Early Spring! That’s why we pull together a Transition Wardobe! There are pops of bright colors showing up- still black, camel, denim and classic navy’s are still good in early Spring, there will be plenty of time for late Spring pastels! I pulled out some of my favorite light weight winter pieces and played with a few new accessories, most were inexpensive finds- that frankly perked up almost everything!

Here’s Five Ways to Style a Spring Transition Wardrobe!

  1. Scarves! Unless your scarves are heavy or holiday prints, keep your scarves ready to layer over a dress, sweater or jacket. You can also add a bit of spring color with lighter weight scarves.BAC59E60-8166-45E7-A2E7-3F144FA8C5B1
  2. Accessories are my favorite way to update a wardrobe any time of year! I found these ribbon badges recently, since they weren’t expensive- I bought several! Pretty necklaces, or Iconic Pearls, worn alone, clustered together, or even with a pin- these pieces certainly update a suit jacket, a dress, even a favorite sweater blazer. Remember, it’s still chilly! Transition is a blend of two seasons ! And- here’s an inside tip: If you add a bit of sparkle on your ears- it automatically brightens your face, at least until the sun begins to give it a natural glow! And  let’s face it- you can never go wrong with a Chanel style felt camellia! Perfect this time of year!9AA21B43-37CA-4C58-A6A1-E52C4C8EA1F9
  3. Dress up a Sweatshirt– Another ribbon badge dresses up a sweatshirt here, I’ve also seen sweatshirts with tasteful scattering of pins, brooches and embellishments  (strong emphasis on tasteful, darling) just look at these silk roses clustered with a crown pin! You’ll feel absolutely regal! 044FBEB3-8325-41D4-B2DC-F39D421E008A658771B8-81A3-4752-B424-7FDCB55E8533
  4. Layer on a Vest– I certainly don’t pack away classic vests until late spring. The white down vest definitely won’t be put away until after we get back from our spring vacation to Colorado Springs! Vests can also help create a bit of shape to shapeless dresses, tops and blouses.0293CC97-4C79-440D-AC0A-DB0E6E985787
  5. White Blouse- the great white shirt is the one thing I would encourage you to buy in Transistion Seasons! Why? There’s nothing like a white shirt to update a wardrobe, though the white blouse can become dingy, yellowed or even have small stains. I checked my white blouses, a few needed to have stains removed, treated and soaked, then taken to the cleaners for a heavy starch! Also, I do love a starched denim shirt to layer any time of the year- in spring? Almost an essential.DA3E66F6-AC77-42FF-8851-77F36CD51A87

And-  as a Bonus– we have a few tips!

  • This spring the color story is filled with bright color from head to toe, if you can’t bring yourself to be that bold- use pops of color, in a first layer- tank, lightweight tee shirt, scarf or a cute rain coat.
  • And while my small handbag, a gift, is black- small handbags are still making a good showing…especially if they’re like this one and convert to a backpack! Great for hands free travel too!893044B0-A277-437D-A777-98CCD37B014D
  • And…walking on the wild side is still going strong… Shopping your closet is a good idea! I’ve had this cashmere animal print sweater for years (I added a leopard print blouse last fall) Even if you add an animal print belt, driving mocs, loafers or shoes can perk up your wardrobe- check your closet- I’ll bet you have an animal print in there somewhere!
  • Speaking of shoes- block heel shoes are a smart move any time, in spring with fickle weather- block heels offer more stability along with style! I updated this year, with a black suede. However, I’ve seen block heels in lots of color too! Head to toe, think about adding a pop of color to your Spring Transistion Wardrobe.
  • And, while we might joke about not wearing white before Easter, White Jeans are the exception! For the Spring Transition Wardrobe- especially on a beautiful day- the classic pairing of White Jeans and a black Sweater, Blouse or Top almost makes us feel like summer is on the way!

So! Head to your closet, pull out a few things you love, accessorize, layer, add pops of color, check out your great white shirts (even a denim one or two!) on pretty days, White Jeans and Black Top are a classic. Then…Pull out your walking shoes, add a pair of block heels and swap out your pocketbook.  There you have it! Our 5 Ways to Style a Spring Wardrobe!

Love y’all, Camellia

p.s. Feel free to email for a few sources on accessories and great white blouses! This is not a compensated post, however, we’re happy to share some resources and tips!  Send us a email with Spring Update in the subject line to –  brenda@camelliascottage.com

*All photographs are obviously mine!

Going Away Outfit…

2823124a-f856-4894-a1ac-30945ecce7b9.jpegWeddings have always been a big deal in the South, so you have to know Southern Mothers are reading everything they can get their hands on about the Royal Wedding…You see, we crown our daughters for everything known to man. It’s that royalty thing, I guess…

  • Weddings are supposed to be the one day of the year that a lady feels like Queen for a Day.
  • We hope the groom feels like he’s getting the deal of a lifetime.
  • The bride’s daddy hopes this fellow has at least a few irons in the fire and gainful employment to support his daughter in the style she deserves- Daddy’s gonna take it as a personal insult if he’s given permission to a man who turns out to be a deadbeat.
  • We hope the bride will swoon whenever she sees her groom- the perfect gentleman- okay, we also hope she’ll feel for lifetime, like Jane seeing Tarzan-or at the very least Buster Crabbe!
  • By the wedding day, the mother of the bride, hopefully will have satisfied herself, barring a criminal background check- that the young man has a sufficient pedigree to marry into the family. That his people go back at least three generations right here in Alabama! We must have a decent write up in the paper after all!

When the engagement is settled- the planning and partying begins….lest anyone think this is fun- let me disabuse you of that notion. A few days into the engagement – which should be a reasonable amount of time not years…(long engagements make daddy think the groom is shiftless, aimless or the groom doesn’t have honorable intentions)…and there’s the other reason, rarely stated- the longer this engagement goes on? The more the wedding is going to cost! Little bitty homemade bird seed bags for throwing turns into a flock of released doves, a small afternoon reception at the church turns into an all out champagne filled country club event… you get the picture.  At any rate- just a few days after the engagement…there are only two people still excited about this wedding – the mother of the bride and the bride! Ultimately, no one is excited except the Bride. Everybody has started worrying about the money…money, money, money…that’s all Daddy, the bridesmaids (who have issues as well) and the groom secretly worries about the money- ok, not so secret. How much is this wedding going to cost anyway? And how many parties did you say?AA0DBA26-F8C7-49A7-A577-6A23227EE508

There’s the formal engagement party- the registering for gifts, the formal teas, the sip and sees, the informal showers, the bridesmaids’ luncheon, the after rehearsal party and just when you’d think everyone has suffered enough- there’s the actual wedding, the reception and the honeymoon, by then everyone is sayin’ -‘I thought we’d never get that wedding over with!’ And then there’s the thank you notes but let’s not give ourselves a headache over that one just yet!

In between all of this – there are the clothes to wear to all of these events!  The bride has the added burden of not only-

  • a wedding dress, dresses for teas, showers, sip and sees and luncheons-
  • the Bride also had to have a trousseau,
  • a peignoir set for her wedding night,
  • honeymoon wardrobe and oh yes!
  • The Going Away Outfit!

B012247A-7495-49BB-90E8-4B5348016B16I have not read one word about the royal bride’s going away outfit! Why would any bride in her right mind give up an excuse to have another outfit?  Are Going Away Outfits out of style? Surely not! If there’s no Going Away Outfit to round out the write up in the paper… ‘The Bride and Groom have planned a honeymoon to Chattanooga.. ( Atlanta, New Orleans or Jekyl Island). The bride wore a worsted wool suit that matched her bridesmaids dresses, the groom wore… after their honeymoon, the happy couple plans to make their home in…’ Do you see what I’m talking about? With no Going Away Outfit, there isn’t a decent way to end the write-up in the newspaper! Whatever happened to good write-ups anyway?8482a35a-bc6c-4543-98e2-fdffccd5e8e4.jpeg

The Going Away Outfit was usually a suit or a nice dress with a corsage or  handheld nosegay as they rushed to the getaway car, waving and smiling for the camera. Not only was the Going Away Outfit a fitting way to leave after the wedding…after all, the wedding dress had to be boxed up- ready to send to Berthon’s Blue Ribbon Cleaners and preserved for future generations.42A279F8-8F5F-4B47-BDC4-FB52556D3ACA

The Going Away Outfit was symbolic- it represented a change of status for the bride. Recently, a few friends were discussing this subject and we were dismayed to think these Going Away Outfits could possibly be outdated. My own was a wool suit the same color of the Tropicana Roses in the center of my wedding bouquet and my bridesmaids bouquets too. It was a double breasted number with tortoise shell buttons, I had well made brown leather pumps which would come in handy to wear to church, weddings or even funerals later. One friend said her going away outfit was a brown striped church dress- which her sister borrowed a few months later as her own going away outfit. The rules for the Going Away Outfit were few- 112D02C8-9091-4A55-B944-2F56500F4B1D

  • It should be well made- befitting of her status as a married woman,
  • it should have a reasonably high neck- no low cut skimpy trashiness allowed!
  • The suit or dress should be knee length, not hiked up, with slits or a suggestively short skirt, ahem…
  • We’re not talking overtly matronly but let’s face it- when Queen for a Day is over- you’re headed into Matron of Honor territory, darling!

One friend was finishing up her senior year at Auburn University where she was majoring in fashion design, she made her own going away outfit! This was no easy task! She was taking a tailoring class, she had to design her own flat patterns with measurements taken from a ‘make your own dressform’ which entailed wrapping the body in gauze and flour starch, carefully removing it and mounting it on a stand. She decided to make a linen dress- a sheath dress cut on the bias in what else but Camellia Pink? and a matching Camellia Pink Boucle Coat with lining to perfectly match.

EDCE48EB-5E20-4458-AA23-CAAAC72A8084She married in mid March, so she wouldn’t graduate before her wedding- now, really can you imagine, planning a wedding and making the outfit and all of the rest of it? A dear friend and member of the wedding party, found the perfect two tone leather shoes to match at Kessler’s in downtown Birmingham. Ultimately, she had an orchid corsage and matching handbag to boot! She blushingly recalls that her wedding night peignoir set was white- okay, what other color would it be? So was mine! High neck, lace insertion- literally the whole nine yards…but I’m getting off on a tangent. Another friend married close to Valentine’s Day so her Going Away Outfit was American Beauty Red, she’s been married 35 years and still has her Going Away Outfit- okay…not the skirt but the jacket! The other smiling bride wore a medium green linen suit, while her new husband was decked out in striped shirt and casual pants! Now, why, may you ask was this Going Away Outfit considered  necessary?

B012247A-7495-49BB-90E8-4B5348016B16The bride has been trussed up in her wedding gown…endured photographs, the receiving line, the reception- perhaps the toasts, the cutting of the cake, the first dance and made the rounds to meet and greet the guests.

Imagine it, if you will… she discreetly withdraws from the wedding party- her wedding dress is carefully removed, folded away in it’s box or bagged…she changes into her Going Away Outfit… has a sweet moment with her handsome groom- hair is rearranged and makeup refreshed before she steps out of her bandbox- tosses her bouquet- hugs her mother, he hugs his… FDA17986-05C3-4A76-872B-87853CF5D899

Amid showers of rice, flower petals or birdseed, the bride is squired by her groom to the waiting car, like the dainty and delightful confection that she is- the car door closes with a solid satisfying thud.

C3ADBD7B-8629-486B-94E7-9DC928AEFE0DA box of wedding cake, cheese straws and toasted pecans is handed through the window. The happy couple smiles for one last photograph. Etiquette dictates the guests should stay until the couple leaves for their honeymoon… Sighs are heard among the crowd… ‘I thought they’d never leave!’

I sort of hate it that Going Away Outfits have Gone with the Wind… Here’s the importance of it- presumably, when the bride reappears in her Going Away Outfit, it represents her new status as a married lady, outfitted and ready to take on her new responsibilities- in her home, her workplace and her community. I think it was a sweet tradition and I still maintain- a wonderful way for the bride’s parents to make sure their daughter is prepared for the new important occasions in her life. Let’s face it, for the bride- an opportunity to get an extra nice outfit! Oh me, going down memory lane is fun!

Love y’all, Camellia

*A huge thank you to the Southern Brides who agreed to share their photos! All photographs were edited by me- they are the sole property of the community of Camellia’s Cottage and should never be used without permission. Can’t resist sharing one more…. No bride or the families can ever do it alone! There’s a whole community of folks behind the scenes- helping make it all possible- and that never goes out of style!dffa4905-aaeb-4792-a240-7176dba4fb53.jpeg

*Buster Crabbe was the original actor who played Tarzan, just in case you’re still wondering.

 

Closet Keepin’…

1E441439-EDDD-4CE7-8573-8EAE96EA010ECloset Keepin’ is a sentimental journey. Once in a Blue Moon, I reflect on the days when I was a Wardrober… it was one of those fun jobs, I helped all sorts of Southern Ladies build their wardrobes- professional and otherwise. It was my job to keep a record of more than 100 wardrobes- all in a thick black ring binder. What those fine ladies’ were keepin’ in their closets was a different matter altogether. I’m no exception. For many of us, it’s not a matter of what we’re giving away, it’s what we’re Keepin’ in our Closets.  Don’t get me wrong, it happens every year. We set goals, make plans, even resolutions- to clean out our closets- and it really boils down to what we’re keepin’ – not what we’re giving away.

Our mothers insisted on certain things. We had to be ready for any occasion in all four seasons, with add-on’s for vacations, souvenir shopping  and special occasions. One Southern Mother couldn’t rest until she knew there were at least two dark dresses- one winter and one summer, in her young belle’s closet. Just in case, there’s a funeral or a solemn occasion, she wanted her daughter to be ready for anything.

In Closet Keepin’, there’s the Sentimental Clothing Journey, what was worn and for what occasion and when.  There’s the Christening and Confirmation dresses, the Recitals, Dance Routines, the all important Varsity Grouping of Uniforms, Show Choir Dresses and Letter Sweaters. Prom dresses and Beauty Pageants- so many Titled Women reside in the South. Sometime, somewhere when you least expect it- you could be crowned Cotton Queen or Queen for a Day! There’s the Bridal Gown and Trousseau, the baby clothes.. and it starts again… It’s the Memorial, the place where Dreams had a Way of Coming True, and you don’t even have to wear a black dress.  That’s why Closet Keepin’ is important.AF71A172-D9D2-46A3-A2B6-274AF0CBCFFC

There are the moments when we ladies must Rise to the Occasion. We pay close attention to how the light reflects on our hair, in our eyes and especially how it reflects off of the sequins and bugle beads. Southern women do know how to Dress for Impact. We take pains with our looks for the joy of being pretty, having a flirtatious smile, being well liked… or not, since we know it’s not easy to be queen.  It takes a lot of yardage for all of this.

  • Tulle, Chiffon, Satin,
  • Peau de Soie, Taffeta,
  • Feathers, Leather, Silk
  • Ribbons and Fur.

Those party dresses residing in our closets have a faint scent of Aqua Net, soft floral fragrance and sweet memories. Southern women aren’t known for Hiding their Light under a Bushel. We do appreciate Finery and enough Sparkle to twinkle our way through this old dreary world. Frivolous excess, ruffles and bows help. Oscar de la Renta once told our group of sales ladies- ‘I love to design clothes for Southern Women, they’re not afraid to work or wear ruffles.’ Or something unforgettable like that… He was a handsome man who knew what he was talking about!

Most ladies hope to make an Eye Catching Entrance, even more pleased at Being Sought Out, tickled pink to be the Center of Attention, take pains to be Charming Guests, hold a fervent desire to be Gracious to our Hostess, then immensely relieved to make the Grand Exit, as we place a Thank You Note in the mailbox on our way out, handwritten of course.  Okay, not all of us, but still. Our closets are our Great Escape, the place we keep our memories, it’s unrealistic to think we’re gonna pitch those dreams to the wind or in a rag bag. Closet Keepin’ is … what we’d never throw away in a million years. We know the difference between the Sentimental Journey and Reality…

 Our mothers taught us to take pains with our looks- we must not wear clothes that will horrify or mortify- never lose our sense of propriety, but rather try our best to dignify any occasion. If possible look like we just stepped out of a band box.  

We are capable of taking a finely cut, well made Black Dress and having enough accessories to change it out for light years. There’ll always be a good watch, strands of pearls, a sentimental piece of jewelry, even sparkling rhinestones or jewels worn discreetly, of course. Still. A little excess is in order occasionally- a statement piece, an arm full of gold or silver bracelets -even Coco Chanel loved an excessive amount of pearls!

Polite dressing equals polite conversation, or should. Being dressed for the occasion seems to bring out the best in us, most of the time. Alright, I admit it- I’ve fallen victim- to wearing casual clothes too often– they are what a friend’s mother called Restorative Clothes. Soft clothes- worn to restore ourselves, not to wear out in public! Mother wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing things like this- Out! In the yard, maybe- never to the grocery store! ‘If you insist on going around like that- please put on some lipstick!’

Closets are a woman’s War Room, a Dress Up Box, the Situation Room.

We must also have a Wardrobe of Shoes- we all know, some shoes aren’t for walking- they’re for sitting, some are for the farm, some shoes are for walking out – or for exercise. Whichever is most needful. Good Closet Keepin’ has a wide selection.1E441439-EDDD-4CE7-8573-8EAE96EA010E

I have a confession to make here…The Silver Velvet Bejeweled Shoes were actually bought as a set– they were seriously marked down. I bought two pairs- just in case I were to lose some of those rhinestones! I even went back and bought them in Pale Gold- luckily they had two pairs of those, too! And that Mink? Well, I inherited it from a friend’s mother, it has her name- Sybil- monogrammed on the inside. I once wore it on a plane to Montreal, the thought crossed my mind… if the plane went down- the flight manifest might not have Sybil registered! I could have lived without a mink stroller, but it sure came in handy when 18 inches of snow fell overnight in that lovely Canadian City!  The number of times in a Southern girl’s life that it’s actually cold enough to wear a fur is in the single digits.  Yet the luxury of having one, even a hand me down- is a guarantee of Making an Impact, if necessary. Sometimes we do actually give a frivolous garment away as long as there’s no memory clinging to it. I’m proud to say, this year- I did give away my fake fur vest, I just hope I don’t ever feel like I need it!

That’s the problem with making New Year’s Resolutions to clean out closets- it’s the living in mortal fear that something will come in handy, back in style or the time will come when we have to rig something up. And, the Lord forbid, we might need extra rhinestones! That’s  the sentimental journey called Closet Keepin’.

Love y’all, Camellia

*photographs are obviously mine.  *And yes, in the 90’s Oscar de la Renta actually came to Birmingham- and I was honored, along with my colleagues, to meet him.

 

Tartans ‘n Plaids…

2EF6971A-8C6A-40C0-B461-3C7B59C09219Tartans ‘n Plaids are beloved patterns in the South. The plaids of my youth were- constrained by rules, like all fashion  and design statements. Tartans ‘n Plaids have rules:

  • Wear Tartans and Plaids in Fall and Winter. with rare exceptions
  • The weight, size and color of Tartans or Plaids ( you must think scale here)
  • There is an appropriate Time, Occasion and Location to use Plaids (with an emphasis on appropriate)

Some Southerners identified the Tartan Plaids of their Scottish forbears as far back as the mid 19th century. Therefore, some of us do tend to get historical about these things, mainly because we’re clannish ourselves.  Sir Walter Scott declared every Clan should wear their Tartans for a royal visit by George IV- give a Southerner about a fourth generation of anything and we’ll do as we’re told! I’m not well versed in the many official Tartan Plaids. As a young person, I attended an International Fair held in Birmingham during the 60’s and 70’s- Scotland was the highlighted country… I have to admit I looked up our Plaids!  The descriptions were wonderful-

  • Red and Black Plaid shot through with Gold,
  • Royal Blue and Medium Green shot through with White (Canadian version),
  • Classic Green and Navy Blue shot with Gold on an uneven line.54501844-254A-4428-BAFB-BA17832AC612

Tartans aren’t ordinary plaids- Oh no, Tartan is of Scottish origin. Therein lies the difference- a Tartan is a Plaid but a Plaid is not always a Tartan! Oh my, ordinary Plaid has appeared in some awful interior designs and fabrics!

Even now, I’m certain that you will find, in some terribly rustic hunting camps –  plaid cast off furniture in particular, large and awful color combos– with a ‘Herculean’ claim to be indestructible. Let’s just say- you can’t put a bullet through any of this Plaid! Whole Living Room Suites (we pronounce that suits) were made up in brown, black, harvest gold or avocado green shot through with cream in patterns the size of Hercules himself! This is definitely NOT Tartan… that Herculean Plaid made it’s way into homes as Christmas gifts for dear old Dads- a Recliner sitting alongside Momma’s floral cut velvet- a big ol’ ugly Plaid– situated center stage in front of the TV- wide arms, maybe a built in beverage cup holder. The Recliner had to be given a wide berth in case Dad decided to Recline, flopping it backward with a lever on the side, he loved it!

I’ve seen whole horrid plaid suites tossed out on the side of a rural road– living proof that the rough plaid fabric will never die. The foam cushions might crumble, the springs might rust- the wood might rot… but that heavy plaid fabric will be there for you as a rural effort at starting a Roadside Rest Stop.  Tacky is too mild a word! And, then there were… awful Leisure Suits made of Plaid Polyester – enormous plaids- always large and loud…for some reason never discreet or to scale! Both the plaid furniture and outrageous attire might have been touted as indestructible- but let me ask you-who wanted it to last? Neither offered Comfort and Joy.E285E163-93AF-4859-8035-BE7B28745366

Tartan Plaids- aren’t tacky. They are made in comfortable cotton, soft wool or taffeta. Not tacky or loud but we did have our rules on wearing them. With the exception of the Cradle and the Grave, most Tartan Plaids can be worn by all ages. Infants did not wear large plaids. Tiny muted plaids might be acceptable in a baby boy’s room- though never nurseries blanketed or wallpapered in loud plaids- who knew what  could happen?

  • Colic, Rash,
  • Thrush or Cradle Cap?
  • Loud plaids can be unsettling!
  • Think soft and to scale for children.

Tiny Toddlers could sport Tiny Tartans- smocked with Christmas Tree inserts or monogrammed on white pique, even garments topped with lace insertion collars. Little boys wore Plaid Shorts buttoned onto White Collared or Smocked tops. No trip to see Santa would be quite as adorable as little ones dressed in Tartan! 86AAE34A-A279-4413-96AA-E5B4CF3F2C0E

Older children might wear a Tartan Plaid Jumper, a Pleated Skirt, Pants or Shorts but rarely put plaid close to cherubic faces. Think Tiny- to scale.

For ladies, we love our plaid blouses and Tartan Kilts. For men, classic Tartan Plaid shirts often pair nicely with a V Neck Sweater and Khakis. For Holiday Fashion, there’s no fabric as festive as Tartan plaids-

  • Ribbons Sashes, Hair Bows and Scarves.
  • Tartan Christmas Stockings, Tree Skirts, Table Linens,
  • Dishes, Invitations, Tartan Throws and Blankets- all bring holiday warmth and cheer to the Home.
  • Formal Taffeta Hostess Skirts and Dresses, Cumberbunds, Bow Ties, even Vests, if not overdone;
  • The discreet lining of a Jacket or Wrap also lends a festive flair to Holiday Parties.
  • For School Girls- Tartans are always in Fashion. Festive and classic are the operative words.Processed with VSCO with k3 preset

Wearing a loud plaid to a Funeral is highly discouraged, though certain dark discreet and solemn tartans are acceptable. Nothing bright and loud.  We Southerners completely love Funerals accompanied by Scottish Bagpipers- Men in Tartan Plaid Kilts (Black Watch Pattern) with highly polished Black Shoes and Knee-high Dark Socks are considered solemn and appropriate. The Bagpipers should stand on a slight slope if possible, but stand a decent, discreet distance away from an Open Grave. The sound of Bagpipes always makes me cry.4EC80046-0629-444D-BF26-C1DF21AAA024

These were the Old Rules- nowadays anything goes and I have to admit I like some of it- but I do miss Dress up Parties where ladies actually wore Hostess Dresses and Skirts with smart black velvet shoes. Tartans ‘n Plaids rank among my favorite Holiday Patterns. Nothing can dress up a Wreath or a Package quite like a Red Plaid shot through with metallic gold thread!

642CBD27-56EB-4F91-A252-61EB90B7D8A9You may be asking- why all of this talk of Tartans ‘n Plaids? Well… Saint Andrew, the Patron Saint of Scotland, is celebrated at the end of November.  Andrew happens to be one of my favorite Apostles, a rank and file man, apparently uninterested in personal fame, keenly interested in the Cause of Christ. Every time we see Andrew in Scripture- he  is bringing someone to Jesus. Andrew introduced his brother Peter to Jesus and brought a little lad with an even smaller lunch of loaves and fishes to Jesus when thousands were hungry! And really? Isn’t that the best reason to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas Season and Scotland’s Saint Andrew with classic Tartans ‘n Plaids? I think so…let the Holidays begin!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Photograph of our lovely young model at her first professional photo shoot is used with permission! Photographs of the adorable and festive little girls are also used with permission. Please respect their ages and please don’t use without permission! * The Herculean fabric had a name- Herculon® it was indestructible and I never saw a plaid pattern of it that I liked! It must have been enormously successful though!In a region once filled with textile mills, if it was made in the South, we’re all grateful! *All other photographs are mine!

Roses and Lace…

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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!

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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…

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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…

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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.

Traditional, Eccentric or Colorful…

Southern women are traditional, eccentric or colorful creatures; sometimes we are just one or the other- a straight up Traditional, an Eccentric, or a Colorful Southern woman-though sometimes you will run across an adorable combination of two out of three… If you’re blessed above all others- you will find that exotic Southern woman who is the delightful combination of all three!

Southern women take writing thank you notes, having impeccable manners, paying our respects and dressing appropriately seriously, with an emphasis on appropriate as in Behavior with a capital B.  The traditions of Southern Hospitality are things we won’t budge on too often. A Southern woman would have to have a very untraditional excuse to get by with it.

However, if a Southern woman can pull off a certain flair, well we might call her colorful. She’s the one who can wear a caftan when everyone else has on a cocktail dress-  the one who can go natural and still look good; or can insert very carefully an outrageous word or two. That’s Colorful.

My mother always said my grandmother had ‘radar’ or ESP- ‘You can’t pull anything over on Mimi, never could.’ was one way of putting it…Someone who had ESP or home cures or even weird dreams that could be interpreted and yes, could read minds- that Southern woman is Eccentric…She has her tonics, her potions, her keen mind, her Almanac and her ways. You don’t want to live your life without knowing all three types- or the combinations.

So, let me just say, after you have passed along all of the social graces and insisted they must be followed at all costs or the dreaded label of ‘trashy’ will follow you all the days of your life…After you have done all you can do to train up a Southern daughterthen you can add this delightful rule:

‘Always have at least one friend who’s up for anything.’

Right? Y’all know I’m right. I can hear the applause…

Love y’all, Camellia

This photo was found on www.seniorsingapore.com- am not sure of it’s origins, but I think the Cotton Candy ladies are hysterical.