The Art of the Bath

 


DEGAS, Woman at her Bath, 1886 

Taking a bath can be prepared as an art form. There’s nothing more soothing than slipping into a bath of soft white bubbles that make you feel like you’re floating on top of a cloud. One of life’s most superb pleasures is indulging in a warm bath filled with therapeutic scents. A long soak in the tub can do much more than cleanse your body; it can have a healing effect on your heart and mind.

I read that the ages from 30-49 are the most demanding; this is the age group that works the most hours. This tells me that if you know that you have the luxury of time in the bath, you are likely to be more productive.

The ultimate bath time might include fresh flowers,  lavender rose patchouli soap, Tea of Republic Rose Petal tea,  Rose Diptyque candle for aromatherapy, and a book of Sylvia Plath’s poetry.

Think about the time when water had to be heated over a fire in order to “draw” a bath into a shallow tub…c-c-cold!! I know that the pilgrim women would let their husbands bathe first and then the children, the mom would bathe in the left over water. I also think of Joseph Pilates who believed in cooling the body immediately after a workout. If you have had a cold shower after exercise, you have felt the shock and tension that comes with the suddent temperature change on your skin. We’ve come a loooong way in making bath time a soothing time.


Degas, Woman Bathing in a Shallow Tub, 1885

Bathing my children might not always be relaxing because of the effort and concentration it takes to help them settle down. Children’s baths are typically at night time to help aid relaxation and encourage a good night’s sleep. After their bath time, I’m usually in need of some relaxing myself.


The Child’s Bath by Mary Cassett

Sylvia Plath said this about her love of a hot bath…

There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: “I’ll go take a hot bath.”

I meditate in the bath. The water needs to be very hot, so hot you can barely stand putting your foot in it. Then you lower yourself, inch by inch, till the water’s up to your neck.

I remember the ceiling over every bathtub I’ve stretched out in. I remember the texture of the ceilings and the cracks and the colors and the damp spots and the light fixtures. I remember the tubs, too: the antique griffin-legged tubs, and the modern coffin-shaped tubs, and the fancy pink marble tubs overlooking indoor lily ponds, and I remember the shapes and sizes of the water taps and the different sorts of soap holders.

I never feel so much myself as when I’m in a hot bath.

Similar to Plath is what Elizabeth Gilbert says about a bath in Eat, Pray, Love
“There’s no trouble in this world so serious that it can’t be cured with a hot bath, a glass of whiskey, and the Book of Common Prayer.”

I love the scene in Eat, Pray, Love movie when an old Italian lady shows Elizabeth how to use the bath with very little water and says, “Everything that’s a-important gets a-cleaned.”

This made me think of Marie Antoinette and how she loved her hot baths. Imagine a bath at Versailles… Marie Antoinette would bath once a day when most bathed only once every few weeks. Her perfurmer would create sachets of: sweet almonds, pine nuts, linseed, marshmallow root, and lily bulb. She soaked in a chemise to keep her body from being gawked at by her ladies in waiting.  

One of the most famous paintings (that happens to be in the bathtub) is The Death of Marat, a painting by Jacques-Louis David of the murdered French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat. It is one of the most famous images of the Revolution. The painting shows the radical journalist lying dead in his bath on 13 July 1793 after his murder by Charlotte Corday. 

I love the paintings of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas who both showed everyday bath time as a pleasant quiet time. 

I long for the ease of those paintings because it always seems to be that the time we need to relax is when we don’t have time.  

Many of us may long for the ease that appears in those paintings because it always seems to be that the time we need to relax is time that we rarely make for ourselves. My advice is, find the time, take the time or make the time…it will be worth it.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk in Dallas

 

Jean Paul Gaultier has always had an open-minded view of society; exploring and investigating ideas with a grand sense of humor.

Gaultier started his career in 1970 at age eighteen as an assistant to Pierre Cardin, and more recently he has been the creative director of Hermes from 2003 to 2010. Gaultier is known for using unconventional models for his exhibitions like full-figured, older women, and tattooed models as well as conventional models. This is partly why he’s so recognizable and popular as a designer. He has said, “In life, I like the blemishes, scars, emotions of the skin, of the flesh, of movement—everything that is human.” I think he has a special eye to view the beauty of life. He has also said, “Women become beautiful once they become forty.”

Walking slowly through the Dallas Museum of Art I could hear the soundtrack of Gaultier’s life playing through his six themed rooms: “The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier,” “Boudoir,” “Skindeep,” “Punk Cancan,” “Urban Jungle,” and “Metropolis.” These six rooms feature approximately 130 ensembles from his couture collections.

 I imagine his playlist might include some Boy George, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Amy Winehouse, the soundtrack to Nine and some Cole Porter Anything Goes

Porter’s lyrics to Anything Goes couldn’t be more parfait for Gaultier!

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything Goes.

Entering the energetic atmosphere there are thirty life-like mannequins to greet you in first room “The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier” including a mannequin of the “bad boy sailor” Gaultier himself speaking, “Hello, welcome, I am Jean Paul Gaultier. I am very happy to receive you here in the Dallas Museum of Art. Enjoy the show.”

I love his choice of real everyday looking women with unusual faces for his cutting edge talking mannequins. He wants for people to see everyone’s beauty. He thinks of fashion as a game and does not call his work “art.” He says, “My job is to make clothes that have to be worn.” I think Gaultier is being humble to not call his couture creations “art”…oui, bien sûr it’s art! 

It is such a pleasant treat that more and more museums are welcoming fashion. Dallas has been in the lime light twice now. It was just a few years ago that SMU welcomed Spanish designer Balenciaga. In 2008, New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted the Chanel exhibition and more recently the MET also featured Alexander McQueen’s designs.

Although Gaultier says he doesn’t think about a certain time period for his inspiration, he can make you feel like you just stepped back in time or into the future like he did in The Fifth Element movie.  

Museum visitors feel like they could be in the Belle Époque period about to run into Toulouse Lautrec painting Jane Avril doing the cancan. Then he takes the audience to Amsterdam’s red light district in the “Boudoir” room. A cigarette seemed an appropriate thing to have after being in the “Boudoir” and “Skindeep” rooms… et voila, many of the mannequins were holding cigarettes in the next room smoking for the audience on a moving runway oval platform. It’s as if he wanted us to feel the experience and I can just imagine him saying in his French accent, you just had some naughty fun in Amsterdam and now I’m bringing you the 80s London punk scene and then onward to the “Urban Jungle.”  

My Ukrainian friend found herself drawn to a dress that was a Tribute to Ukraine. The stunning dress took 242 hours to create.

After seeing The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk  it is certain that Gaultier speaks to all kinds of women. His attitude is that fashion is for everyone. He is playful, whimsical, provocative and imaginative.  

What I love about Jean Paul Gaultier is that, like a Picasso, he is easily distinguishable . His style is unapologetic, has good humor, and combines couture with culture. 

His artsy, chic, and fashion forward grandmère was his first muse. He played in her closet and was fascinated with the discovery of the corset and wearing underwear as outerwear. He would watch his eclectic grandmother sip vinegar to make herself gasp and contract her stomach muscles and then cinch her corset tighter.

He has been inspired by the streets of London punk music scene, Paris, Folies Beregere, but it was the 40s movie Falbalas that made him want to become a designer. Old movies and showgirls also evoked his passion for fashion.

My mom sent me his first corset bottle perfume when I was in college in 1993 at the University of Alabama. My sorority sisters in the Bible belt couldn’t believe I had such a naughty bottle in my room. The bottle oozed sex! That’s what I mean about Gaultier being unapologetic; his style is “in your face” unique with a side of sex. 

He’s had many a famous muse throughout his career: Catherine Deneuve, Helen Mirren, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Madonna, Charlotte Rampling…to name a few.

Madonna’s costumes for the 1990 “Blond Ambition” tour was one of the highlights of the exhibition.

Gaultier has always had a thing for sailor stripes; the stripes portray his bad boy “enfant terrible” image perfectly. A name he earned in the 70s for his first fashion show because of his tendency in challenging the then common views of fashion by reworking them exhaling into them the breath of his own ideas.

He’s inspired by movement and does a lot of design for ballet. Most recently he designed costumes for Angelin Preljocaj’s Snow White ballet and his motivation from the movie The Black Swan can be identified in his pieces in the Fall 2011 couture collection.

Dallas has much to be proud of and we have been extremely lucky to debut Gaultier’s show as one of only two U.S.A. stops. After the show ends in Dallas (February 12th), it will travel to San Francisco.  

Jean Paul Gaultier has definitely made his mark on what fashion is today. The Dallas Museum of Art honors him with a tribute to life. C’est Magnifique!     

Scent of a Woman: Diane

 

Perfume has power; an alluring scent makes a lasting impression. A woman’s fragrance is like a DVF dress, it’s about the way you feel when you put it on…sexy, confident, and classic; and like a DVF dress, perfume should keep speaking even if no one is talking.

Women have been seducing men for hundreds of years with their scent. It has been said that Cleopatra conquered the Romans with her perfume. This is the power of fragrance. Christian Dior said, “Long after one has forgotten what a woman wore, the memory of her perfume lingers.” I’m sure King Solomon couldn’t remember what Cleopatra was wearing because he was hypnotized by her scent.

Diane von Furstenberg was in Dallas last Tuesday to launch her new fragrance Diane at Sephora in North Park. Watching Diane on Good Morning Texas I was tickled to hear her say, “Dallas has the most beautiful women in the world…Dallas is special.” 


Diane von Furstenberg’s new fragrance Diane has musky notes of patchouli, frangipani and violet flowers. It is seductive, mysterious and impossible to forget. Sephora describes it beautifully, “Built up like one of her dresses: it wraps up a woman’s body and stays with her all day long.” Her slogan for the fragrance is “Be the woman you want to be.”  

 

The beautiful ice sculpture bottle was inspired by the golden links of her sutra bracelets she wears. Carved into her bracelets are Diane’s mantras “love, laughter, freedom, harmony, truth, confidence and life.” I think you can sense the powerful aroma of her fragrance in her mantras.Diane von Furstenberg, the Belgian-American designer was born the same year as my dad. Diane has said, “Beauty is perfect in its imperfections, so you just have to go with the imperfections.” I love the fact that the designer, who is sixty-four, has never had any plastic surgery and doesn’t plan to.
Diane has had a fascinating life! She married a prince in 1969. Her company was founded in 1972. She is most well known for her iconic wrap dress and her signature prints. All this time, Diane has been hobnobbing with the glamorous glitterati and has been photographed more than any designer.
Mario Testino who has photographed Diane told her to always smile big so she looks joyful in every shot and she truly does; she has a definite sense of self and exudes confidence.
Her fashion empire includes: clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry, luggage, tableware, bedding, and now fragrance.
Diane is actually her second fragrance following Tatiana.
The DVF legacy is similar to Coco Chanel’s. They each invented their own feminine and modern style that has remained relevant for decades.
She likes the fact that her customers are so young; it makes her feel current. Her customers range in age from eighteen to eighty-eight.

 

I can’t help but think of Diane as I read Elaine Sciolino’s La Seduction. Even though she isn’t French, she has that obvious joie de vivre and a soft feminine power that only a woman can command. I believe Diane has the art of seduction down pretty well, in fact I can smell it!

 

If I were a celebrity, creating a fragrance would be first on my list of things I would do. There are very few designer fragrances I love. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely and Stella McCartney’s Stella are two of my favorites. Fragrance is so personal; it envelopes you as a person but also takes on the environment you’re in. As Diane says, “fragrance is about addiction and memory.” Diane has that je ne sais quoi that you don’t forget.

 

I wore Diane to a local fashion show and dinner out with my girlfriends this past Friday. After leaving a crowded night spot, I could still smell Diane in my hair (not the smoke). I like a fragrance that can stay with you through the variable elements of life. I imagine Diane thought about this from her Studio 54 nights.

 

When sampling scents at a counter at Neiman Marcus recently, the salesclerk had me smell a few different perfumes. When I told her which scent I preferred, she replied, “Aww…I can tell you are a good girl!” There is a definite yin and yang in fragrances, contrasting flowers just like the many personalities we wear. I may be a good girl, but I might like for some people to catch a whiff of something mysterious that leads them to ponder whether I’m always good! With fragrance, I think we can all be like Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” because it simply depends on how we want to smell.

Le Chignon

The chignon hairstyle is a classic, timeless “up-do”, yet it still manages to be modern. Any age can wear a chignon and feel instantly classy and coquettish; just add some red lipstick, perfume and you’re elegant and ready for any occasion.

Sometimes known as a French twist, the Chignon is a classic bun with a bit of a twist.

This hairdo is extremely popular because it can be worn numerous ways: to the side, slightly messy, and sometimes decorated with flowers or even chopsticks. 

The word “chignon” comes from the French phrase “chignon du cou,” which means nape of the neck.  It is still synonymous with French sophistication. Chignon (pronounced: “shin-yawn “) resembles a beautiful, smooth, low knot or bun. The most elegant women don the chignon. Perhaps this is so because, as it was said to me as a young girl, the nape of a female neck may be simultaneously both the clearest and most subtle pronouncement of femininity in a woman’s appearance.

The hair is first brushed straight and gathered at the back in the hands.  The ponytail is then twisted to tighten the hair, and the twisted ponytail piled on the back of the head and secured with pins to give a very attractive bun. A messy bun can add some character to the look.

The chignon can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where Athenian women commonly wore the style with gold or ivory handcrafted hairpins.  They fastened their chignons with a hair pin clasp of “golden grasshoppers,” according to “The History of the Peloponnesian War”. The chignon’s popularity peaked again in the 1940’s when many women wore the bun with a headscarf while working in factories to support the war effort during World War II.

This hairstyle is also identified with ballerinas. Ballet dancers often use hairnets and bobby pins to make their bun as tight and neat as possible. Most ballerinas have long hair because it adds femininity to the stereotype of a ballet dancer. There are more ballerinas today breaking that mold. Nonconformists like City Ballet dancers Ashley Bouder and Jenifer Ringer cut their hair to feel a bit more like a regular person. They wear hair pieces when performing.

For feminine women who have long hair a chignon is perfect for rainy weather or when you’re running late; instead of spending time blow-drying and straightening your hair, just pull it back into a bun and you’ve got an instant chic do.

With the flexibility of styles from elegance on one end to casual comfortability on the other, the chignon may inspire a healthy and attractive approach to daily living.  Many say that a new or different hat may change not only a woman’s appearance, but also her attitude and feelings about herself. The same may be true of this simple, nape clearing “up do.”  From classic to modern, with a twist, le chignon can work for everyone!

How to create the classic chignon

Back to School: Fashions, Backbacks, and Bento boxes

There’s nothing like back to school shopping to put you in the mood for fall. This time of year is almost as busy as the holidays. It’s like there is something crisp in the air that gives off a fresh new energy. I love it.

With the autumn season rapidly approaching I am reminded of the movie You’ve Got Mail.  I loved what Tom Hanks says about back to school smells and the fall season, It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. I also love the scene when Meg Ryan comes into her shop and picks up a roll of Scotch tape and says, Can you beat that?

I loved the dress I wore the first day of first grade.

Walking into my classroom I’m excited about the smell of new crayons but also the visual display of first day of school outfits. I remember what I wore the first day of school every year. The pictures my mom took on that first day show the excitement and anticipation of that moment; I always felt good about that first day outfit. It’s part of making a great first impression and having an outfit you feel happy in.

This is a special year for me because my daughter will be joining me at school (my work) . She is starting Kindergarten; and as an elementary teacher, I’m thrilled that we will be going to school together.

Fashion has always stimulated me and I’m tickled to see my daughter developing her own opinion on colors and textures. She’s picked out three first day outfits and loves to try them on to play fashion show. It is my hope that this year she will dress herself and feel good about what she’s wearing.

I’m always impressed with mothers who encourage their children to dress themselves. If your child has an opinion about what they like to wear then they’re probably capable of choosing their own outfit.

Not long ago, I had the pleasure of teaching a little girl named Isabelle. I loved seeing her explore her fashion sense; she would come to school with multiple patterns, glittery scarves, and hair accessories all in one day. The scarf might turn into a belt at recess and the fancy shoes might be changed to sneakers but she was so proud of her style. Her look  worked because she had confidence and her mom had given her enough direction and freedom to explore her fashion-sense; that resulted in choices that were all weather-appropriate, tasteful, and fit her body.

I recently cleaned out my children’s drawers in preparation for back to school shopping; you could say I went shopping in their closets first! This way I was able to do an inventory and organize what they already have that still works. Naturally you should do this for yourself too; but it’s always easier to do for someone else isn’t it?!

When my daughter came downstairs from getting dressed I could tell she had fun picking out her clothes because she had forgotten about the many adorable clothes she had hiding behind her favorite Hello Kitty shirts. She was so excited and proud of her fashion selection.

The tricky part of going back to school is that it’s still summer and here in Texas we won’t be ready to pack up our summer clothes for a while. This is why I love layers; they allow you to mix and match until the seasons really do change then you can add more layers.

I think it’s fun to play with patterns…stripes, stars, and polka dots all together? Sure, a child can own that look and it can make you long for your Punky Brewster days! Think bright colors and happy patterns that can still work with the favorite Hello Kitty shirts!

I’ve never been one to just buy from a single store; like my daughter, I like to mix and match! I have many favorite stores when shopping for my children. I love to have that European feel mixed with classic American staples. This fall, I coveted Janie and Jack (for classics), Hannah Andersson (basics), Mini Boden (undergarments, especially tights), H&M kids (inexpensive tops) and Garnet Hill (backpacks and lunch totes).

You know the saying, If you look good, you feel good? Happy colors and patterns with pizzazz will add zip to everyone’s step and truly make you and those around you feel good.

As a teacher, I know how observant children are to each other!  Just think of how good it feels when someone compliments you on your outfit; children are more comfortable to freely complement each other and do it often. If your child dressed themselves AND received compliments, you can feel good knowing that you have a confident child who is comfortable with their decisions and are not afraid to express themselves through fashion AND in the classroom.

Besides clothes, other fun things on the list to shop for are lunch and backpack gear. Garnett Hill’s patterns have always been some of my favorite. My daughter studied the backpacks as seriously as if she were picking out her Halloween costume. They also come with a complimentary lunch bag.

What you place inside the lunch bag is just as important. The Japanese are whizzes at making whimsical joyful characters that are usually animals. Bento boxes are all the rage; not only are they adorable with frogs, pandas, bunnies, and even Hello Kitty characters but they make for smart food choices in a neatly presented way and encourage children to eat a variety of foods.

This fall when you’re doing your back to school shopping, involve your kids in the planning and have fun together! Helping children learn to make decisions about their clothing pays dividends for other decisions they must learn to make later.

Texas Fashion Collection: hosting treasures that are appreciated

 

You know those times when you anticipate something really exciting that you are about to do? Last week, I had one of those experiences as I walked into the Texas Fashion Collection in Scoular Hall at The University of North Texas; my expectations were exceeded past my wildest dreams. I can’t believe here in Denton, Texas (the city in which I was born and raised) were so many hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered.

Walking into to UNT’s 4,500 square foot space I was astonished by the amount of clothing that looks like it goes on for miles. The 15,000 plus collection is so nicely organized from the earliest pieces (including garments and hats from the late 1700s) to today’s contemporary fashions.  

UNT began housing the collection in 1972 but it actually began in 1938 when Stanley and Edward Marcus began preserving works of fashion that belonged to their Aunt, Carrie Marcus Neiman.  Once the collection got too vast, it moved to UNT and has been overseen by Professor Myra Walker, director and curator since 1987.

In the beginning, designers would send pieces to Stanley Marcus to build his collection. He tried to get very high end couture and eventually ran out of space. His collection was about 1000 pieces before coming to UNT.

The earliest garment, a small blue dress from 1795, looks like it would fit a twelve year old. People were smaller then due to what was typically a more meager diet than we enjoy. In the designer section, most works are represented in alphabetical order. It is fun to see how the changes in silhouette and size reveal what was going on in history.

I felt like a kid in a candy store and my candy was fashion. It felt like I was in Milan, Italy in an important fashion warehouse and every moment BIG names were jumping out at me. I thought of Patricia Field and how she must feel all the time going to work and being surrounded by beautiful things from fashion history.

My favorite piece was an Adele Simpson daytime dress from the 50’s (I would wear it today). Simpson, like Chanel, was part of the post war fashion movement and into more comfortable sportswear. She took French couture and gave it an American lady-like feel.

The Texas Fashion Collection hosts a list of designers that will make you want to stand-up and applaud! Designers like: Chanel, Dior, Scaasi, Cashin, Pucci, Trigere, Balenciaga, Oscar de la Renta, Galanos…it’s enough to make your head spin!  Some stars of the collection include: Chinese bound foot slippers, intricately beaded handbags, 1890s Texas prairie dresses, silk wedding dresses from 1840s-1900s, Japanese kimonos, a blue pregnancy outfit that Jackie Kennedy wore during the campaign…

Clothing carries memories. Think about when you put on something you haven’t worn in a while, you’re clothing and accessories tell a story and they hold the feelings you had the last time you wore it.

Fashion is THE best tool to study the past. When styles change it’s because the times have changed. Sometimes it happens so quickly we don’t even realize that fashion is slowly evolving.

Walking down the aisles of the TFC and observing the racks and racks of changing styles, I was able to see a clearer picture of what was happening during those times and how fashion was influenced.

I specifically think of the 1920’s (one of my favorite time periods) and also the 1960’s (because it was so drastically different from the former periods).

The 1920’s brought along an avant-garde change in fashion. Women were seen wearing bustless, waistless silhouettes. It was the beginning of the flapper style and the popular cloche hat. Coco Chanel popularized the sporty athletic look with the use of jersey knit, clean lines, and outdoor living. One of the TFC highlights includes a gorgeous 1920’s beaded flapper dresses from Paris. I was lucky enough to hold it and can tell you it was extremely heavy AND extremely fabulous!

Walking down the 1950’s rack you suddenly get hit with the drastic change from the 1960’s and can’t help but say, Whoa! Dawn Figueroa (assistant curator of the Texas Fashion Collection) explained that textiles and products from other countries played a key role in fashion. There were restrictions of the dies and fabrics designers used in the 1950’s. During this time the economy was good and TV was culturally influencing designers because people got to view the world through television. When the 1960’s came around there was a radical change; Dawn Figueroa says this about the 60’s, “It’s like you’ve only had a ten-pack of crayons then you get a four-hundred-pack of crayons and the colors go all over the place.”



Carrie Marcus Neiman’s squirrel coat



One of the many wonderful things about the TFC is that it is a place to learn. Some of the pieces in the collection are designated for study and can be taken apart and turned inside out, but most of the pieces are museum garments with minimal handling. This is a uniquely educational fashion museum that enhances our understanding of society through the study of clothing. The archived items serve as teaching and researching tools for students, faculty, and anyone interested in fashion history. The goal of the TFC is to preserve and exhibit its ever expanding collection of clothing and accessories and make materials available for all who want to learn.

The TFC staff has the fun job this summer of opening up boxes that haven’t been opened in years to photograph and catalog the treasures that they find. Can you imagine the excitement every time they open a box?

The Texas Fashion Collection is lucky to have such generous Dallas donors like oil heiress Claudia de Osborne, Mercedes Bass, and Texan turned Parisian ballerina Nita-Carol Miskovitch.

Claudia de Osborne donated 371 pieces to the TFC (many of those were works by Spanish designer Balenciaga). It was her sense of style that put Dallas on the map for fashion in the 1950’s. She once said, “Mr. Marcus can tell you how I love clothes. It is sort of a religion with me. I am terribly happy that these things are in the hands of people who appreciate them.”

 

The Texas Fashion Collection is VERY special; there’s nothing like it in the entire world! Clothing from every vocation, class, and occupation from socialite, housewife, leisure, nine-to-five…you can sing Chaka Khan’s I’m every woman when you see every woman represented in the Texas Fashion Collection.

As a lover of fashion, I can relate to what Claudia de Osborne said and I wish I could tell her and Carrie Marcus Neiman just how much their clothes and all the 15,000 plus items are being appreciated at UNT’s Texas Fashion Collection.

Swimsuit Confidence…for all women at every age

Women are on a constant quest to find the perfect swimsuit that flatters their shape. There are so many different body types. Women go through so many changes including puberty, pregnancy, post pregnancy, weight gain and loss…We have so many souvenirs in our pockets: wrinkles, age spots, scars, baby bulges… The good news is that there are many suits today that flatter, flatten, and fix problem areas (not flaws). We need to celebrate that women come in all different shapes and sizes.

It’s all about confidence! We don’t want our daughters to pick up any of our bad habits. It begins when we’re pregnant and right away we start taking better care of our bodies, then that care carries over on to our daughters and teaching them to have a healthy approach to food. If a mother has confidence, it is likely her daughter will too. All mothers want their children to be happy and proud of who they are and comfortable in their skin.

Most swimsuit patterns are designed to bring the focus up to the face. If you think about watching a ballet dancer, as beautiful as her feet are, your eyes still go to the face.

A swimsuit should fit comfortably and show your personal style and if it’s not comfortable, it’s not working! I used to lifeguard and remember after all day in just a suit, I didn’t even notice it wasn’t part of me; that’s because I had a comfortable one-piece that suited me the way a suit should.

I think of Europe and their carefree attitude about their bodies. It’s part of their culture that they are natural and free. America can take a cue and relax; the pool is fun, the beach is fabulous and if you’re lucky enough to go with the ones you love, they’ll just be looking at your face.

I’ve always believed with fashion, if it feels good and you love it then it’s working!

Just like my mom always told me growing up…shoulders back, chin up, and smile! It goes a long way!

  Très Ashley Tips:

Don’t be afraid of color! I love the vivid blue one-piece above by JCPenney’s A.N.A. because it’s a slimming silhouette.

The giraffe print one-piece, from JCPenney’s Longitude, camouflages the tummy and gives plenty of coverage for a larger bust.


For bikinis, lightly padded tops give a flattering shape and boost. Embellishments like ruffles, beading, or vivid colors emphasize this part of your body (great if you’re small up top). String bikinis are adjustable for the perfect fit.

I love JCrew swimwear! This nautical bikini is très French and chic! Janie and Jack also has that très French style for your little girl.

I adore old Hollywood glamour and the one piece above screams Ava Gardner! The rouching softens what you don’t want to see!  

See Ashley on Good Morning Texas

Apricot Lane: Fashion is art…contests and more!

Shopping in the spring/summer season means: romantic florals with a touch of leopard print, flowy peasant blouses, colors like navy, purple, and coral. You might be working in an office or heading to the playground for a play date. The good news is you can find it all here with a staff that can show you how to work both ends in the same day. 

Tim Gunn recently said, When we look good, we feel better. That’s true for everyone… You feel better able to tackle the world. No matter your profession, you do a better job when you feel good about what you’re wearing.

Photos: I feel good wearing these feminine pieces that can work day and night. It makes me want to sing the Cover Girl commercial…Easy, Breezy, Beautiful!

The Internet is a fashionable accessory! Trends are more accessible and affordable for everyone now and technology improves where and when we can shop. There are certain stores you so wish you could shop online like H&M and Apricot Lane; but after shopping in the store you are reminded of just how powerful a knowledgeable staff can be. As a working mom I know how easy it is to just click a button on the computer and be done. What you can’t get on the internet is the sixth sense that a retail staff has; they know what you need before you know it. What I love that Apricot Lane offers is their Facebook page.  

Social media is a wonderful thing!  Twitter and Facebook can provide that sixth sense in your pocket; providing real-time feedback on the looks that work, and those that don’t.  I love that column in Lucky magazine “Does this outfit work?” On Apricot Lane’s Facebook page, you can get instant feedback.  I think it’s similar to looking at a magazine or catalog to preview what you think might work on you. When you go into Apricot Lane, you can say I heard about this item from your page, can you set me up in a dressing room? You have to “Like” to be in-the-know! In these times, you can’t beat quick and easy. In some instances to “like” is better than to “tweet” because an instant picture is worth a thousand words.

It is impressive to me that owner of four local Apricot Lane boutiques, Cristi Hargroves, works with the University of North Texas to place fashion students in her stores. So much of Apricot Lane’s philosophy is about giving back to the community. It just feels right to shop here! Walking into Apricot Lane you can instantly feel that Texas courtesy. In the Highland Village store, Karen and Katie greet you with smiles; they are warm, down to earth, and extremely helpful.

When I ran in to Apricot Lane over Spring Break I had my children (who are two and four) with me. Their stores are welcoming and created for moms who might be shopping with their children. PR representative, Stacey Graham says that’s the “norm” in Apricot Lane. They even had an activity box for my children to play with in the dressing room with me. This immediately made me feel comfortable and at ease. Being a mom and a second grade teacher I’m around children all of the time, but I feel very sensitive to others who might not want them around. I never got that feeling at Apricot Lane; they had the “children make the world go round” kind of attitude.  This is that store your daughter, mother, and grandmother can find something that is age suitable and fashion forward fabulous.

You can always find unique items at Apricot Lane (some that help charitable causes); they also stay true to Texas, true to sports, and true to the times.

I’m thrilled to share with you three exciting ways you can get involved in the social “fashion” media with Apricot Lane:

·         Apricot Lane DFW is having a stylist contest that starts on Wednesday, March 23 and runs through the end of the month. Entry is simple! Log onto Apricot Lane and become a fan.  Upload pictures of your most stylish Apricot Lane ensemble, accessories…and show off your favorite “Spring” trend. There will be three categories for the contest:

1.       Stylish student

2.       Edgy entrepreneur

3.       Modern mom

Anyone can vote on their favorite post and the fashionista with the most votes in each category by the end of the contest will receive a pair of Miss Me jeans!  The winner will also get the title of “Apricot Lane’s Stylist” and get the chance to come into the store to try on the newest fashions!  The outfit you choose will be featured the following month as Apricot Lane’s Fashion Forecaster Look.

·      The next contest is Très Ashley for Apricot Lane! Fashion IS art! How can you translate it to readers? Through a poem, sketch, photograph, video…Email it to me at tresashley@gmail.com and I will post your “fashion is art” creation. This is a contest for all ages. Go on and open up your creative “crayon box” of fun. We work so hard these days that sometimes the only chance our creative side comes through is through fashion. I challenge you to find the time to be creative in another media. I will post contest winners and you will win a gold humanity bracelet (featured in the photo above) from Apricot Lane with inspirational words that remind you to find your creativity in everyday tasks. Coco Chanel once said, Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. Dare to think outside the box!

·         Très Ashley Bonus: If you go into Apricot Lane and mention this blog, you can receive 20% off one regularly priced item. Happy Shopping!

Apricot Lane Facebook Page

Apricot Lane 

Locations:

  • Apricot Lane at The Shops At Highland Village   972.325.1530

  • Apricot Lane at Firewheel Town Center in Garland   972.325.1662

  • Apricot Lane at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco (inside mall)   972.325.2598

  • Apricot Lane at Watters Creek in Allen  972.535.6516