Elegant Survival

Stylish Living on a Shoestring
Since 2006

M-J's Miscellany

Elegant Winter Dressing

Posted on January 4, 2017 at 10:10 AM


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 at Elegant Survival in 2011: 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 2016, 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.


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 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: M-J is Dressing in Furry Boots, a Scottish Hand-Made Fair Isle Sweater, and an Austrian Wool Skirt


©M-J de Mesterton 2011-2017


Posted on March 2, 2015 at 6:10 PM


Wear Garments at the Waist for an Elegant Appearance--Hip-High Jeans Make You Look Dumpy and Fat

(I took these photos surreptitiously from inside my Mini.~~M-J de M.)

Bulging in Front and at the Back Takes Talent--or a Really Lousy Pair of Trousers

And, what happened to her derrière? It is lost in a "Michelin Man"-style stack.

This is not sexy.

Copyright M-J de M., Elegant Survival, March 2015

Elegant Lady's Boudoir

Posted on June 29, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Visit the Elegant Lady's Boudoir at Elegant Survival

Elegant Dressing

Posted on October 28, 2012 at 10:00 AM

French Philosophy of Parenthood

Posted on February 5, 2012 at 1:00 AM

In a Wall Street Journal article adapted from her new book, “Bringing up Bébé” (Penguin Press; February, 2012) , Pamela Druckerman of France reveals Gallic secrets of educating small children for a lifetime of civilised behaviour. Every parent who is experiencing stress and bewilderment at the process of training tots can benefit from learning traditional French techniques and philosophies that, when effectively employed, will positively affect the most important years of their progeny's lives.
  Why French Parents Are Superior, by Pamela Druckerman

Elegant Hair

Posted on December 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM

My husband cuts my hair (I have resisted beauty-salons like the plague since Y2K), and is particularly fond of this recent photograph he took of his handiwork. He says that the haircut is "ideal for a mature woman of substance".  I am wearing an Eddie Bauer Skyliner down jacket, a pleated skirt knitted by Gi-Bi in Venice, Italy, gloves by Sermoneta, stockings by National, and a pair of Himalayan Khombu boots.

©M-J de Mesterton, December 2011

Elegant Haircut, Elegant Winter Dressing

Elegant Haircut

Posted on November 14, 2011 at 7:55 PM

My husband describes the haircut he gives me as "the right cut for a woman of substance". Copyright M-J de Mesterton, Elegant Survival, 2011

Caring for Your Shirts

Posted on September 25, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Washing and Drying Your Shirts

By M-J de Mesterton, Copyright 2008

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 (I call it "cafe crud"), 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? ~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, May 2008

Elegant Evening Dress for the Mature Woman

Posted on July 4, 2011 at 1:37 PM
A diaphanous black silk blouse with shell buttons and a changeant black/Burgundy taffeta skirt with matching long, wide sash was perfect for a Saturday night in July.
©M-J de Mesterton

Smooth Talkers

Posted on May 2, 2011 at 11:45 AM
L'Homme Elégant, by Edouard Touraine, 1912

Recently, I wrote an editorial lamenting the sad state of women's voices. It is entitled, "Gals are Growling: What Gives?" In it, I recommend that today's women listen to yesterday's smooth-talking ladies in movies. Today's female voices often sound like trombones filled with cottage cheese, rather than like euphonious flutes. Listening to current newscasts, television shows and advertisements from American media will demonstrate this to the conscious listener, whereas in previous decades, women spoke without lowering their voices to gravelly, guttural levels. I've just begun to find examples of smooth-voiced, elegant women of the past. They appear on Elegant Survival Blog's Smooth Talkers page.

©M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Dressing in Winter 1962

Posted on January 4, 2011 at 10:18 AM
From Film und Frau, Germany, 1962
With thanks to our friends the Kings of Herefordshire
for the beautifully-preserved, glamorous vintage magazine.
One can see the influence of Audrey Hepburn's persona in these fashion photographs, which, like so may others of the early 1960s, employ a near look-alike of the elegant brunette actress.

M-J Elegantly Dressed for Christmas

Posted on December 27, 2010 at 4:53 PM
An elegant white cotton blouse is worn with an ankle-length green velvet skirt, topped with a purple-black-and-white pashmina and accompanied by purple stockings  and black suede pumps. This ensemble is right for festive daytime and evening wear during the winter holidays.
M-J de Mesterton, Christmas 2010
©Elegant Survival

A Few Points about Elegant Survival

Posted on October 1, 2010 at 10:17 AM

A few words about what you see here at Elegant Survival: www.elegantsurvival.net is not a commercial website, thus its suffix is not .com but .net.  There are websites out there which came  after mine, with similar topics, the addresses of which end in .org, even though they are heavily-laden with advertisements. The internet frowns upon such misrepresentation, but they go ahead undeterred using web-addresses ending in ".org,"  a suffix that is reserved for non-profit entities. Elegant Survival occasionally recommends salutary products and clothing that I have tested myself, and those items which are produced by my friends. It is not a money-generating entity, and probably never shall be.

This site is not a blog, though there is a blog-page here, M-J's Mini-Blog, to which I occasionally contribute, as I am doing right now. Here at Elegant Survival you will find a series of pages that are static, difficult to edit and update, due to a rather unreliable hosting service that only works well under certain conditions. The content herein is written by and copyright M-J de Mesterton, with individual creation-dates of photos and articles included, except in rare cases. I will very occasionally feature material of others and give it proper attribution, because if it has already been said or written about, I will go straight to the source and feature the edifying piece rather than emulating it, since I do not engage in mimicry. When I first began publishing Elegant Survival, the very word, "elegant" had fallen into disuse, and there was so little content on the internet employing the term that just using the search-word, "elegant" brought up my site as the first result. Last year, both in print and on the George Noory radio show Coast to Coast a.m., prognosticator and Elegant Survival reader Gerald Celente made one of his famous predictions, to wit that elegance was going to make a comeback, especially the kind that doesn't rely upon wasteful expenditure of cash. Felicitously, he was correct, and now elegance is being brandished over the airwaves and internet like never before. Tweed, which I have been writing about since 2005, is also experiencing a resurgence in popularity, because it is not only luxurious but durable--just the sort of stylish, traditional and practical thing that exemplifies the Elegant Survival theme.

Because of their relatively easy hosting and posting qualities, I have branched-out to blog at Wordpress and Blogspot. Blogs are not to be confused with public forums or  forae; they were not originally intended as places where anonymous web-surfers can contribute and comment, though these days some bloggers are allowing such potentially dodgy activity. I simply do not have the free hours required for addressing comments or removing spam and, by the same token, because of my lack of adequate time in which to respond, do not wish to ignore those who would make interesting or benevolent remarks.

A note about Wordpress, where I host Elegant Survival News: it has come to my attention that when one is  logged-into their own site, surreptitiously-placed advertisements generated by Wordpress do not appear, but to my horror, I noticed recently that when I was perusing the site without being logged-in, ads were showing up there within my posts. I was mortified, and never would have written my blog there had I known what they were doing behind my back. I then did some research, and saw that other Wordpress users had experienced the same embarrassing if not enraging epiphany--finding that the public has been seeing adverts on their blogs all along without their knowledge. Like them, if I wanted ads, I would employ one of the many services, and control exactly what is being touted on my site. The Elegant Survival News blog will probably remain standing,  dubious adverts and all, because it is regularly visited by people around the globe. However, my au courant posts are being written on a page hosted by Blogger, Elegant Survivalist.

Thank you for visiting Elegant Survival!

©M-J de Mesterton; September 30th, 2010

Gals are Growling: What Gives?

Posted on September 28, 2010 at 4:45 PM

Every time I am exposed to radio or television--and that isn't often--I am puzzled by a new trend in women's speech. If one has never ceased monitoring popular U.S. broadcasting outlets, entertainment and media advertising, it may not be apparent to them.  Being in the habit of avoiding American pop-culture--and only occasionally witnessing the stuff--like Rip van Winkle, I have suddenly awakened in a world that has changed drastically. Women, especially those under fifty, are chirping their sentences like Valley Girls, and culminating them in a very fatigued, strained-sounding growl. This guttural sound is not feminine, and I don't know whence its inspiration, nor whom they are attempting to emulate. Listening to a paragraph spoken by one of these hapless victims of fashion is like travelling ten miles of bad gravel-road.

There is a better way to speak, which simply involves modulating one's voice in a soft tone all the way to the end of each sentence, leaving that grating growl to the dogs and to your male counterparts. Men really don't think it's sexy. I've heard gents describe this new manner of female-speaking in the most unflattering of terms. For examples of attractive feminine speech, old movies are instructive. Even Lauren Bacall didn't do the gritty, guttural growl. This new way of talking must have been in fashion for quite some time while I "slept," because it takes a concerted effort to put into effect--in fact, some of us find it impossible to imitate. Maintaining a pleasant and natural tone, terminating your phrases with a definite stop instead of an audible question-mark, is a winning habit. Dragging the last syllable out longer than those in the rest of the sentence is bad diction, and ought to be avoided. I don't like to preach--leave that to other writers. That said, I occasionally feel the need to make a suggestion. Mimicking some pop-tart who is piled-out on coke, booze and cigarettes is a losing proposition in any facet of your life, so it would be good for you girls to get the gravel out of your gullets, and start sounding like real women again!

©M-J de Mesterton 2010

M-J in Elegant Tweed

Posted on May 16, 2010 at 11:36 AM

If you wear only classic clothing, it is bound to come back into fashion. This jacket, designed by M-J and Jacques de Mesterton, then executed flawlessly by Bookster U.K., has already been somewhat mimicked (not duplicated) by Dior for autumn 2010. M-J wears her Harris Tweed burnt orange equestrian jacket with Gun Club Check breeks, also made to measure by Bookster U.K.

Elegant Dressing

Posted on May 2, 2010 at 10:20 PM

Classic Herringbone Harris Tweed Skirt

Posted on March 23, 2010 at 9:52 AM
See this classic tweed skirt here.

Notice of New Material at Elegant Survival

Posted on August 29, 2009 at 12:44 PM

1) My recipe for pogne de Romans is just under my bread-making photos, about halfway down the Elegant Cuisine page, listed at left.

2) A review of Hotel St. Francis, Santa Fe, appears on the Elegant Culture and Travel page, listed at left.