Elegant Survival

Stylish Living on a Shoestring
Since 2006

The Clothes Line, Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2006
 Luxury-Line: If you have the space and privacy, there's nothing like sun-dried clothes. 

M-J on Classic, Elegant Style


Dear Readers,

A lot of money has been wasted by ladies and gentlemen who believe that a designer label on a piece of clothing or an accessory is necessary for a person to be elegant. Seventy percent of what one sees on the runways is unwearable by normal people anyway, and makes a mockery of the human form. Let's face it, for every designer piece you have, there are legions of people out there wearing the same item, seriously decreasing the cachet of owning the thing in the first place. There are plenty of ways to dress elegantly without the joke being on you. Elegant dressing doesn't involve plastering your corpus with the latest trendy rage (or rag). True style means choosing classic pieces that don't come emblazoned with someone's imprimatur or logo. It means finding skirts, jackets, trousers and blouses that are beautiful, well-constructed and will stand the test of time. Be mysterious, instead of an open book; an instantly recognizable fashion designer piece will label you as a striver. Better to seek out well-made garments by doing research either on the internet or shopping around your town, and though this next suggestion requires a bit more effort, having something made for you by a tailor or seamstress from a pattern and fabric of your own choice will pretty much guarantee that no one else wears the same thing. Sheep follow trends: setting your own style will mark you as an individualist with good taste--and save you from sartorial waste.
~~Copyright M- J de Mesterton, October 29th, 2007


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.


How to Appear Taller
Recipe for Adding  Height to a "Short" Lady

 Besides wearing higher heels (there are some comfortable versions such as wedgies and chunky-heeled boots and shoes), there are a couple of other things you can do to affect a taller look.
Avoid long skirts, favoring ones which end at the knee. Keep your color-scheme unified. If you're wearing a dark skirt, wear dark-tinted stockings. Don't let bare skin show between your skirt, pants and other components. It will break up the continuity of your ensemble. A long line of the same tones, head-to-toe, creates a  taller image.
I'm sorry to have to say this again, but avoid trousers, pants and skirts that do not come up to your natural waist. Clothing manufacturers are not cooperating. There is a scheme afoot that saves them money, by giving you less fabric. In fact, it is difficult to find anything with a true waist anymore. You know, that area in the middle. I bought a pair of long-johns (also known as thermal underwear) by Fruit of the Loom. The photo on the package showed the garment hugging the waist, as is proper to prevent slipping down. Upon opening the package, I saw that they only came up to the hips. Bad cut, stupid design. I won't accept it. A hip-hugging garment with no waist will make you look short-legged, and is bound to fall down.  Get with it, clothing designers! Stop making women and men look like truncated freaks. We need choice.
Elegant Style for Cooler Weather

Today is the First of October. Those of us who love the luxury of fine woollens and tweeds are in our glory this season, when the temperatures allow us to dress in our favorite clothes. A modest investment in proper tweed garments would greatly enhance your fall and winter wardrobe. I've written about paring-down one's closet to include only the finest things. And it is  tragically wasteful to wear a completely different outfit each day. With a finely crafted jacket or blazer, some silk blouses, a couple of skirts and an assortment of accessories, a woman can create such a variety of looks that no one will notice that certain components are being re-incorporated. Fewer and better items of clothing in our cupboards lead to ease in dressing with elegant simplicity.

Copyright  October, 2007 
You Can Trust a Man in Tweed
by Jacques de Mesterton, ©2009

The name comes from tweel, a Scottish interpretation of the word “twill”. The legendary cloth was baptised for posterity when a London merchant, ‘round 1830, equated the tweel on an invoice from Hawick with the famed river Tweed, which flows through the Borders region of Scotland and England. Tweed is rugged, highly breathable and drapes magnificently; the stuff is available in countless colours and patterns. Tweed can also be secured to match the challenges of current climate extremes, indicators of a coming Ice Age.
Gentlemen may choose from an impressive array of cloth weights to handle everything from the coldest winter to midsummer in the tropics. Tweed is supremely adaptable to a wide range of human activities. It is the country gent’s cloth of choice in places where traditional sporting values are maintained. But Tweed looks every bit as good in town as it does on a Highland stalk. And Tweed inspires confidence in the wearer—you can trust a man in tweed. The cloth suggests strength, dependability and thoughtfulness. Indiana Jones wears tweed. And in the real world, so did Teddy Roosevelt, the very model of a dashing and adventurous American president, the man who ranched in Dakota Territory, was inducted into the British Royal Society for leading a party to the summit of Mont Blanc, won the Congressional Medal of Honor, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and saved the Grand Canyon. Tweed is the cloth of choice for men of action.
King Edward VII was renowned for his “tweedy opulence”, in the words of his grandson Edward, Duke of Windsor. The king, a corpulent man of sophisticated tastes, was the inspiration for the later Windsor Style, which for decades exercised great power over the minds of men everywhere. The Duke of Windsor was devoted to well cut clothes made from heavy Tweed cloths. David, as he was called by Wallis, his American-born duchess, was the most important influence on the way men dressed in the 20th century; and his memory is with us still in this new age. Bookster sells Tweed suits and separates fit for a king at accessible prices, clothes which you may depend upon in these increasingly complex times. Equip yourself for the road ahead—wear the reliably tasteful cloth of presidents and kings: wear Tweed! © Jacques de Mesterton 2009 


Caring for Your Clothing: Ironing a Man's Shirt,

Washing and Drying Laundry

Me and My Shirt in October, 2008: One of Us is Twenty-Something....
Photo Copyright J. de Mesterton 2008
My husband and I have shirts that are twenty years old and in wonderful shape. Most of them are custom-made; all of them are from either Paris or London. We have protected our initial investment on each one by caring for it properly. What follows is some material I wrote last year on the subject.
~~Copyright M-J, August, 2007
Ironing a Man's Shirt

My Swedish grandmother taught me how to iron men's shirts. Like Scandinavians of all social strata, she adored being at the ironing board. I don't know how other people do it, but here is our system:

Flattening and folding the yoke (found under the collar at the back of shirt) at its bottom seam, iron it. You can iron-out the resultant crease later, when ironing the whole of the back.Iron the underside of the collar, then its topside, then iron a crease at the seam where it meets the shirt.

Iron the insides and outsides of the cuffs, before doing the two sleeves. Then you are ready to execute the easy parts: the two front sides and the back.

Hint: keep a spray bottle of water nearby to mist the shirt's stubborn wrinkles, even if you have a steam iron. If you use steam, empty the iron, refill it, and test-run for rusty water which can be difficult to remove once it is on the shirt. Do not use the highest temperature setting: crispy brown edges are for tortes, not chemises!

Besides the great feeling of accomplishment one gets finishing each shirt, it saves money which one may have spent having a cleaning outfit doing the work. There is dignity in ironing; don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
UPDATE, October 26th, 2007: My current favorite iron is First Impressions by Black & Decker.  It costs about 27 dollars at Target stores. I have owned irons from Germany that cost three times as much, and each one ruined my silk clothes by dripping on them. This one is totally reliable, and has a built-in cord reel.

Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2007

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sun-Dried Shirts, a Natural Luxury

 Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2006


Washing and Drying Your Shirts

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, when hand-scrubbing fails, you can still wash your white shirts in hot water, soap, and a little bleach, 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.) The sun will do some natural bleaching of white cotton. Save costly energy and 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 Dressing

Comments by M-J on the Waist

It's time for designers and marketers to stop calling a true waist a "high waist".

Just because the industry bastardized the waist for so many years (actually eliminated the waist altogether), and it was nearly impossible to find anything but the old, tired hip-huggers from the sixties and seventies, they assume that they can call anything that actually lands on the waist "high-waisted".

Innumerable are the times have I explained to both men and women that to wear trousers starting below the navel is to seriously truncate one's legs. How many people are lucky enough to have very long legs? Only they can afford to sport this fashion foolishness without looking short and dumpy.

A skirt or pair of trousers that doesn't come up to the natural waist is a waste of money. It is neither classic nor flattering to your figure.


Assorted Clothing Links from Cyberspace


Radio Canada's Costume Collection: Renaissance Clothing

The Probert Encyclopedia of Costume


M-J on Elegant Style 

Dressing to Suit Your Shape

I see many women of all ages wearing things that make them look misshapen, when, with a few minor adjustments, they could look like they have hourglass figures.

I'll begin with something which was poorly addressed by two British fashion "mavens" on the BBC in their makeover show. The poor subject left looking the same as she came.

If one has a pear-shaped figure, a formula for balancing it out is this, which I have devised:

Clothing Advice for the Pear-Shape

1) Starting at the top, a wide-brimmed hat

2) A peplum jacket with a waist and flare, not too long, ending just above the hipbone. Jacket ought to have some shoulder-padding, but don't go to the eighties Dynasty extreme. Resembling a football player is counter-productive! If you don't own a peplum jacket, a full, long-sleeved blouse tucked-in with the addition of a belt has a salutory effect. "Blousing", or loosening the portion just above the waist, is a good idea. You ought to look big on top but cinched-in at the waist.

3) An A-Line Skirt or fuller--it must widen considerably towards the knees.

4) No matter what shoes one is wearing, remember that the longer the skirt, the higher the heel for a balanced look. As for comfort, a stockier yet still-high heel is tolerable. Queen Elizabeth II wears platform shoes, which are high but not spiky, in order to be on her feet during duties. Personally, I like a stout heel that is a maximum of two inches tall. For night-time occasions when I don't have to walk, I may wear a dressier heel that is taller than that.

5) Pear-shaped ladies are best advised to avoid the Capri pants or pedal-pushers that have been popular for so many years. They tend to truncate (shorten) the legs. As a matter of fact, even the most tall and lithe ladies look short and dumpy in Capri pants!

An Extremely Unflattering Fashion Trend that Just Won't Die

A current fashion tragedy is the hip-hugger with short, tight top (I cannot bring myself to call those things "blouses"). Especially painful is witnessing that ensemble on a woman over forty. The combination makes even slim women appear to have a bun in the oven, and I have even heard some men derisively call the phenomenon "the muffin look". A waist must be accentuated, and with that outfit, it disappears. Nonetheless, I have female acquaintances--mothers of teen girls, who cannot resist the dangerous temptation to dress as the kids do, with ridiculous results. At their age, they ought to know better!

The Clothes Line: Advice for the Apple Shape

If you are larger in the middle than you are at the hips, you might want to try de-emphasizing your mid-section by placing more emphasis on the bottom and top portions of your figure. To facilitate reading and remembering these ideas, I'm going to use numbering:

1) Wear a skirt that flares towards the bottom, to detract from your stomach. A long, bias- cut skirt that goes to the mid-calf or ankles is effective if worn with higher, chunky heels or boots. Remember that for visual balance, extra height in your heels is important, but doesn't have to be uncomfortable.

2) Keep the fabric loose at your waist. We don't want to emphasize the surplus here.

3) The jacket or top of dress ought to be lined and long-sleeved to avoid looking tight on your arms. The tighter and more clinging the fabric is at your arms, the more their girth is emphasized.

4) Draw the visual focus to your bosom by wearing a blouse or jacket that shows your shapeliness there, or a little cleavage. Ruffled blouses are wonderful, too; I find that the best look is long-sleeved even in summer.

5) Skinny pants, pencil-skirts and Capri slacks will emphasize the contrast in size between your legs and middle, creating a pigeon shape. Instead, luxuriate in a full or flared skirt. Achieving balance is our goal.

6) A wonderful swing coat, like the one pictured here, is very flattering in winter with a pair of tall boots.

Copyright 2006 M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Survival is the original website about elegant living on a shoestring.
Dressing for an Elegant Luncheon

How to Dress for a Formal Luncheon

I've been asked how a woman ought to dress to attend an elegant, formal luncheon. Daytime dressing is fun, as it affords you some fashion opportunities not available during night-time. Even if the weather is hot and humid, a simple and beautiful costume is in order, complemented by traditional style elements such as high-heeled shoes, gloves and hats. In fact, luncheon is the most appropriate time to wear your best hat. Jewelry may be worn, as long as it is understated--pearls are desirable, as are tasteful clip-earrings, but a lady is best-advised to choose one or the other and not both. Pendulous earrings ought not to be worn in daytime. Gloves of a very light fabric or kidskin, preferably wrist-length, may be worn upon entry to the luncheon. Once you sit down at the luncheon table, you remove your gloves, but never your hat. Resist boorish suggestions to remove it; a lady never removes her hat. The same applies to the top layer of her costume, whether it is a blazer, bolero, or stole. Only the overcoat is subject to removal, and an elegant club serving formal luncheons, such as the Colony in New York, will have a coat-check service. A modest-length dress or skirt-suit is proper, from knee-length on down to mid-calf. Longer skirts require higher heels to balance the silhouette, whereas dressy flats may be worn with knee-length skirt-suits and dresses. To keep your presentation in balance, if you wear separates rather than a dress, a longer jacket or blazer ought to be worn with a knee-length skirt, and a shorter, peplum or bolero jacket out to be worn with a longer skirt. A long jacket combined with a long skirt will create a dumpy effect. Pants and slack suits are definitely out of order for any formal event, but if you really must hide your legs, a long dress or skirt is acceptable, as long as your ankles and shoes are visible. Sleeveless dresses with light coats or boleros of the same fabric are quite comfortable and elegant. As for fabric prints or weaves, the flower motif is perfect for daytime festivities. Regarding appropriate shoes (avoid even the most elegant boots for these occasions--pumps or flats are always just right): the more official or elegant the occasion, the less one shows of her toes and feet, so avoid peep-toe and sling-back shoes. They are not classically elegant. Classic style requires you to respect the fact that there's a time and place for everything. Stockings, pantyhose or tights must be worn to all daytime formal events. Save your bare legs, sandals, halter-tops, and spaghetti strap sundresses for the beach, backyard or garden. Suits constructed of wool, shantung silk or diaphanous layers, and well-structured dresses with modest decolletages, are always welcome. The more fabric one wears, the better. Pastel colors are desirable in spring and summertime, while in winter the preferred colors are more jewel-toned, neutral or somber. Black must be excluded for daytime in all seasons, unless a woman is in mourning. If you remember that day-wear may be elegant but not blatantly sexy, success is in your future, as well as many delicious luncheons with your peers.
Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2008
Postscript: for more information on how to dress formally in daytime, look up the dress-code for the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.
More on Elegant Dressing by M-J

Burberry Suit from Sphere Magazine, Christmas Number, 1936

Advert from The Queen, The Coronation 1953 (a magazine in our library)




Elegant dressing begins with a good foundation: lingerie with structure, which includes waist-enhancing and bust-sculpting designs. Luxurious dresses, blouses and skirts that emphasize your positive attributes will complete your beautiful look. Silks, tweeds and velvets, houndstooth and herringbone will always be in style because they are classics. Top this off with an old-fashioned, wide-brimmed hat and you are off to the races! Oh, and don't forget the sensible shoes; a well-constructed shoe doesn't have to be a clod-hopper. A two-to-three-inch heel with a simply styled leather upper will take you anywhere (flip-flops will take you to the podiatrist).

Advice for summer: wearing fewer clothes--exposing more skin--will not necessarily keep you cooler. You ought to dress to prevent the elements from getting to your skin. Loosely woven fabrics such as linen, and breathable ones like silk, can keep you cool and protect you from sun and insects. You'll never see anyone (except maybe the odd American tourist) walking out in the desert nearly naked.
Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2007

Don't Short-Change Your Image

What's the logic behind the American obsession with shorts? They're now worn year-round, in all sorts of weather, and in nearly every venue. These overgrown children in short pants don't even bother to wear socks. There was a time when Bermuda shorts and lederhosen had to be accompanied by knee-socks. A few years ago, I worked in a medical research company where writers came to work in shorts and sandals. That was in Princeton, New Jersey--which is as far from a resort town as one can get. Hairy legs are on display by these misguided fashion victims, who apparently believe that to expose themselves this way is to demonstrate an attitude of "casual chic". I have another term for it, which I cannot print here.

Socks were meant to protect shoes from feet and vice-versa. If one is going to wear shorts, at least wear socks, and remember: a sock that stops halfway up one's leg shortens that leg visually. Why not acquire some traditional knee socks in cotton for summer? Again, showing more skin won't keep you cooler, but it will prevent you from looking cool!

Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2007

What's Happened to Shoes?

Remember Shoes?

A trip to the airport last week was instructive. At least one hundred women walked by as we sat and waited for friends to come in from abroad. A total of three women among the hundred were wearing actual shoes. The rest were wearing flip-flops. My husband remarked about the basic unattractiveness of the human foot, while I pointed out the unsanitary practice of bare feet on airport floors, once-daily "sanitizing" notwithstanding. If you're not on crack, you realize that it is window-dressing; there's no such thing as a sanitary floor, not to mention city streets with their ubiquitous doggie-walkers. How shoe manufacturers can survive when few women actually wear their products is a mystery. The only ones doing well when it comes to feet are podiatrists! And nary a stocking or sock was spied among the throngs of mothers, teenagers and other females during the aforementioned ill-shod parade. Stockings were invented to protect both feet and shoes. Shoes are a means of protecting feet from the environment, and of providing support for the foot and ankle. A stout shoe, with or without laces just might save one the cost of treating chronic foot-pain and/or infection.
~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2006 

Elegant Survival on Safari

Elegant Survival on Safari:
How to Dress in the Deserts and Savannahs
of the World 

We discovered this affordable and excellent source of well-made safari clothes while outfitting our elder relative for a trip. The firm is called Tag Safari, and their motto is "Helping Africa through Trade, Not Aid". Tag Safari's office in Houston is staffed with personable and efficient customer service agents.

M-J's Survival tip: the more of your skin that is covered by clothing, the safer you are from the elements, sun and insects in particular. Even in the U.S., insects can cause deadly diseases such as Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and West Nile virus. People assume that hot weather requires a baring of skin, which is a fallacy. Natural fibres have a wicking action to keep your skin dry of perspiration, thus keeping you cool. And, everyone but the unenlightened knows now that getting sunburnt/tanned on purpose isn't cool! Smart people wear long sleeves and trousers, long socks, boots and skirts. Do all you can to protect against malaria and other insect-borne diseases. Desert-dwellers cover as much skin as possible, and for good reason.
The only person you'll see going nearly-naked in the desert is the odd American tourist. You'll see them later in the cancer ward!
So, whether you're in the high desert, the heavily-wooded forest, or in the savannahs of Africa, my elegant survival rule of covering yourself from head-to-toe with luxurious fabrics is even more relevant.

Copyright Elegant Survival 2008


Packing for Travel

Packing Clothing for Travel

I once carried a Wall Street Journal tote bag on board a New York-to-John Wayne Airport flight, which held dresses, blouses, and shoes enough for a five-day family wedding celebration. It weighed about seven pounds, I reckon. That was in the good ol' days, two months before 9-1-1, an event that ought to have changed the way people pack for trips. Instead, it seems that luggage in the overhead bins has become more ponderous than ever. Summer travel is easy to pack for, when one has light silk blouses and dresses. Packing clothes for a winter trip is a bit more of a challenge. Here is what I typically pack for a trip in winter:

1) Worn on the plane, both going and coming home: a tweed suit with long skirt: ideal for nearly six months of the year in many climates, and always presentable. Wrinkling is almost never an issue

2) Trench coat (also worn in-transit)

3) Worn in-transit: comfortable, yet elegant, mid-height heeled boots (worn with long skirt, one has the choice of woolen knee-socks or nylon hosiery worn underneath--for traveling, I find woolen knee socks more comfortable than garters and nylon stockings, and besides--who wants the airport security challenging one's concealed hardware?) With a long skirt, the tops of your boots and hosiery will not show. It's always a luxurious feeling, when sitting in an airplane seat, to have extra fabric to cover one's legs.

4) Packed in small valise: two silk blouses, preferably with jewel-necked collars. Hand-washing and hanging yields a fresh blouse by morning, and it usually needs very little ironing.

5) Packed in small valise: silk scarves and an oblong cashmere one (I have a cashmere tartan scarf that is so wide that it can be worn as a shawl) to vary the daytime look, and perhaps to wear rather than the tweed suit-jacket for warmth in the evenings under the trench-coat

6) Packed in small valise: some sort of evening dress, in a lightweight fabric such as silk or wool crepe

7) Packed in same small valise: a pair of cordovan (dark, burgundy-colored leather) pumps with mid-height heels for day and night. I don't like black for daytime.

8) Stockings, silk nightgown, and undergarments, all flattened into a zip-locking bag or two

Packing Logic

The boots are heavier than the shoes, thus they are worn rather than packed for transit (and hey, you don't have to untie them, they just slip off so the guys at the inspection area can have a good loook at 'em!). With a tweed suit jacket and skirt already on me rather than packed where it would weigh down my bag, my load is lightened. I either carry my trench-coat or wear it in the airport. I find that there's no need for a heavy winter coat when one has a cashmere scarf and tweed suit jacket under a raincoat. I learned my lesson hanging about airports carrying heavy coats that were insufferably warm! I wear the skirt each day, with a different blouse and scarf, with or without its accompanying jacket. My evening dress is always either of wool or silk, and not prone to wrinkling. My husband also packs lightly; most of what is in his one bag is folded shirts, socks, and underwear. He wears one tweed suit for the duration, changing shirts, ties, and cufflinks for variation. He tops all of this with his own trench-coat, and uses one pair of shoes for the whole trip. When you have high quality clothing, you can go anywhere. We have traveled this way quite comfortably to the far reaches of Scandinavia, Europe, and Canada, in all seasons of the year. And, if I cannot fit my bag easily under the airplane seat in front of me, I have overpacked! That's one woman's interpretation of "Packing Lightly". Copyright 2006 M-J de Mesterton

Photo: Traveling with My Husband, in Comfortable Tweeds 


Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2007 
Bon Voyage! 



Quotes by M-J de Mesterton

Your body is a temple--make sure it's not the Temple of Doom.

A wrinkled sack of skin on some all-too-visible bones can turn stomachs instead of heads.

Beware of Splay-Foot and Shorty-Pants

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2006


Introducing Proper Ollie
Together with standards of dress, manners have taken a nose-dive. These short videos are amusing, but so true. Don't let the person being laughed at or hit with a brickbat be you!

Storing Your Scarves and Gloves
A good use for hat boxes or hat cases is to store scarves and gloves in them--I keep the scarves and gloves in separate hat boxes. Photos copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2008
Storing Your Scarves and Gloves, by M-J

A Healthy Self-Image

Distorted Body Image, and How It Can Make You Sick

When I was a child, nobody had ever heard of a "size one" except for mothers of infants. Now, it seems to be a source of pride for a grown woman to announce that she is a "size one" or a "size four". I just don't understand what it is about themselves that they despise so much as to want to nearly disappear! Is the ultimate goal a "size zero"?

A Brazilian model died lately of anorexia nervosa. Now she's a size zero!

An acquaintance of mine in Europe was so influenced by the pop-culture media and glamour magazines that as soon as she was 18, she starved her slim body and became very ill, to the point of hospitalization. When she looked into the mirror, she must have seen something entirely different from what the rest of us saw: a skeleton with hair. Perhaps, as in the traditional fun-house gag mirrors, she saw a fat lady. Treatment in the States would have cost at least $100,000.00, and that was ten years ago. Pop culture, misguided peer-pressure and self-loathing were responsible for her condition, but, mercifully, she did eventually recover. My cousin,  Madeleine, is Sweden's expert on anorexia nervosa. She gives many talks on self-esteem and body-image.
I modeled some clothing for Chico's in Y2K, while taking part in a charity fashion show. I was astounded that I was wearing a size 2, when I was actually a size 12. The company had devised a system whereby ladies wouldn't be embarrassed by their size! And the suit I modeled for Jaeger was in a British size 14 (equivalent to American size 12). Incidentally, I'm glad that I finally have a venue wherein I can say this: the definition of "plus-size" has been bastardized in the past decade to include regular ladies' sizes 12 and upwards! This is insanity. It makes normal, sized-12 and 14 women feel huge. "Plus-Sizes" were created about twenty years ago for those women who wore sizes above 18, which was once the top ladies' size. Yes, 18, NOT 12! Sizes that previously had no numbers had to be called "plus". Clearly, I am non-plussed by this ridiculous situation! If the touting of child-sized clothes for grown women isn't evil enough, size 14 is passing for "Plus-Size" now, which further stigmatizes normal-sized women. It is done so that the manufacturers and purveyors of clothing can charge more, because "plus" sized clothes require a little more fabric to construct. 

There are some cultures where female voluptuousness is prized--my husband claims that is the case in most societies.

My husband also thinks women ought to have meat on their bones, as well as good, old-fashioned fat. He grew up in Provence, France, and says that even there no man really wanted a thin woman. In fact, one of the Rothschild women who was in the family's social circle was tall, plump, and very appealing to men. He describes it as, "looking like a duchess," and revels in my appearance. In Paris, my husband says, young fellows might have had skinny models with them at gallery openings and such, but for romance and enjoyment, they always preferred a more chubby woman. I say that if God made you thin, and it is natural, that is just fine. But to make a concerted effort to look emaciated is counterproductive as well as unhealthy.

The very thin women I have known aged prematurely. A wrinkled sack of skin on some all-too visible bones can turn stomachs instead of heads!

Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2006

The following link is a better guide for international shoe-size equivalencies: Shoe-Sizes by Tex


You Can't Build a Castle on a Swamp

aturday, February 16, 2008

Andy Gilchrist Quoted in Financial Times Article


Elegant On-Line Consignment Shop: Christabelle's Closet

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

  Elegant Survival Presents: Shopping at Christabelle's Closet

Photo Copyright Christabelle's ClosetChristina Carathanassis, Owner of New York's Famous
For those of you who love top-shelf designer clothing and accessories, my friend Christina, owner of Christabelle's Closet has an on-line consignment shop where you can find high-fashion pieces for very low prices. Christabelle's Closet is ideal for elegant survivors who desire the best clothes for very little money. 

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Drape Yourself in Luxurious Fabrics

The Ultimate Survival Garments

Menswear: the Death-Knell of Civilization

The Death-Knell of Civilization: Men Wearing Shorts to Work
Thursday, July 31, 2008

I've written about this untidy habit before, but now it is being sanctioned by The New York Times. Of course, there's very little in the realm of perversity that the Gray Lady won't promote.    Shorts

I've also said that in Bermuda, the shorts are nearly knee-length, and that no gentleman wears them without knee socks, either of light, ribbed cotton in hot weather, or wool during cooler times of the year. Men in Bermuda traditionally wear these shorts with blazer, shirt and tie, accompanied by real shoes--no boaters, sneakers or sandals.

When you read that NYT piece, you will see that what is being touted there is a far cry from what is acceptable in Bermuda, a very civilized place with a dress-code.


~~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2008

Non-Electric Irons

I've had a link to Lehman's on Elegant Survival for a long time. Here's their page of available irons that don't use electricity to heat. Lehman's Irons

Thank You for Visiting the Clothes Line

The Short-Legged Look, from Elegant Survival News

ARTICLE by M-J de Mesterton

2008 December 10

A few weeks ago, I posted a photo of a famous actress whose low-rise pants made her look strange.
For the purpose of demonstrating the effect of low-rise trousers on men, here is a famous actor, sporting the same tragic look.

The Midget Look--Very Popular! 

The Midget Look–Very Popular!


Just to Illustrate My Point about How Important the Waist Is....Photo by Michael Bezjian

Just to Illustrate My Point about How Important the Waist Is….Photo by Michael Bezjian

Clothes that do not have a waist are a waste. They make you look like a short-legged freak. As I’m fond of asking: what ever happened to gals who had “legs up to here”? They have become brainwashed fashion-victims.

Update, July 2011:Here is a fast, easy, flattering skirt pattern from Butterick McCall’s: 

Flattering, Easy-to-Make Skirt Pattern

I have found another flattering skirt (and jacket) pattern, though it is for advanced sewers, being a bit more complicated to make:

Have a look at Butterick’s Retro and Out-of-Print patterns, as well. 


M-J's Miscellany


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