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Easter Rising: ReDoing, ReNewing, ReThinking, ReTurning

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I’m back home after traveling to sales conferences. Since the beginning of February I have joined my HusPartner in 4 to 6 day long road trips, packing our trusty Excursion to the ceiling with educational materials and classroom furniture, to Austin, TX; Myrtle Beach, SC; Washington, DC; and Cincinnati, OH; with a few free weekends in between. It’s been fun and now I get 3 weekends home until the next trip, this time up to Detroit, MI.

Our little Westie, Gaely GoLightly, 000_0519 was with us for all the trips except the one to Washington, DC. She’s a good traveling dog and being 10.5 years old helps in her ability to take long naps. So, she’s cool with all the traveling but with one absolute rule: she must have at least one, if not two, great adventures a day!
Austin supplied a wonderful treat: an off leash park area that went on for what seemed like miles, next to a river where she could swim. Myrtle Beach wasn’t so much fun as it rained incessantly but we still ventured out for the daily walks, even one on a blusterly misted beach, and right before the Cincinnati trip Gaely broke her tendon in her back leg so she was on pain meds, so she didn’t even want to walk. Fortunately she was able to stay in the warm vehicle right next to a residential yard where a pair of absolutely huge squirrels frolicked all day, providing all the entertainment a completely medicated terrier could possibly want. I am terribly sorry about the kenneling during the 6 day trip to Washington DC but we wouldn’t have had much time for adventures anyway as we worked 10 and 12 hour days for 4 days straight.

But now I’m home and it’s officially Spring. My Bloglines subscription to Telegraph Fashion (warning: various videos with sound will play when you click on the link!) provided lots of late night reading and Hilary Alexander’s column delighted me with this list of “must do’s” on How To Be Chic by Sonja Rykiel, which I’ll reprint here. It has caused quite the revolution in me so maybe you’ll get a boost from it, too!
The knowledge: How to be chic

Who better than the fashion designer and Frenchwoman Sonia Rykiel to teach the rest of us how to comport ourselves with a certain je-ne-sais-quoi?

Be Individual
It’s very difficult to explain en anglais, but for me, chic is really a question of attitude. And because of that, chic is an expression of the individual. She might be sensuous or mysterious, boyish or feminine. It’s the way you walk, the way you speak and the way you play with your body and what it can do

Watch and Learn
I tell you, anyone can learn to be chic – absolutely anyone. There is a wonderful film that explains it very well – All About Eve, with Bette Davis and Anne Baxter. Watch the way they move and act and you learn all you need to know about how to be sensuous

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
The reason Frenchwomen have a reputation for being chic is because they know themselves so well. That is the most important thing. The Frenchwoman will take an hour, three hours, maybe even a whole afternoon, to look at herself in the mirror, and work out what she wants to present to the world. It might be seen as vain, but for me that is the secret of chic. It is learning a lesson about yourself, not copying someone else. You have to take time to look, know what you are and what you can do

Accentuate the Positive
Age does not matter – a woman can be sexy and chic, mysterious and intelligent, no matter how old she is. But the key is knowing what she should hide and what she should show, and this is different for everyone. If you have fantastic legs, you should show them off; if not, hide them! There is nothing more terrible than a woman with heavy legs in a short skirt

Live the High Life
The only thing a woman must have in her wardrobe is talons hauts – high heels. Whatever your age that is all you need. If you are wearing a pair of high heels, you can be chic even if you are nude. My own favourites are a pair of navy suede wood-soled sandals with a fabulous platform heel

Walk the Walk
The way a woman walks is so important. You have to straighten the back – stand up tall like a sculpture. Don’t move or swing the top half of your body. Hold your head up and fix your eyes on your destination. Walk with your legs relaxed and a little bit apart. Shuffling with tight hips and your feet close together looks terrible

Gilding the Lily
A woman should wear plenty of make-up and know how to make it work for her. Chic is not about looking natural and bare-faced. It takes effort! Baudelaire put it perfectly, in a line that puns on or, the French word for gold: ‘Il faut se dorer pour se faire adorer’ – you must be gilded to be adored

Sonia Rykiel, 27-29 Brook Street, London W1 (020 7493 5255)


I’ve taken this list very seriously and have

1) Decided that I must accent the fun, playful side of me that has been buried under the seriousness of cancer and new (and old) business stresses for too long

2) Vowed to find a copy of that classic movie, All About Eve and watch it closely!

3) Finally persuaded my HusPartner that I need better lighting in the dressing area of the bedroom because the mirrors don’t help if they aren’t illuminated

4) Decided that I should replace my assessment of myself as old with a certain luscious ripeness. I’ve been feeling old and frail, my skin is not the same, weight loss has made it loose, etc. Sooooo, I am now using a weekly peel on my face as well as my hands. So Much Better!!! And I’m reminding myself, mentally, that I am wise, luscious and fun, too. Maybe that will help display those qualities? I do think so. I like living as a ripe, luscious woman much more than living as an old frail one.

5) Bought the highest heels I’ve ever owned. Oh, they’re not high, about 3.5″, but I’ve always had bad feet so I may be very sorry about this one later. But I do wear them when I think I won’t have to stand or walk all day. I love being taller!

6) Practiced walking, esp in said high heels, in front of those dark mirrors…This part needs more work but I hope that my ankles and feet will get stronger if I don’t over do the exercise

7) Had my makeup redone and have doubled the drama of it, esp the eyes, with liquid liner and turquoise over a dark bronzed shadow upswept toward the end of the eyebrow. OK, tell me not to do that? No one has yet, and I have been told I look good. I have gone au naturale long enough!

I’m beginning to see how I’ve done myself a disservice. The weight loss has made me feel prettier. Hillary Alexander’s column with Sonya Rykiel’s caveats of chicness have lead to these new self improvement goals. I see the layers of depression I’ve carried around. Time to ReDo, ReNew, ReThink and ReTurn to my young self.

Sewing? For now, even with Easter ads and announcements filling my heart with sewing/design/fabric fondling desire, I must return to commercial sewing.

It’s hard to accept but I did spend 4 hours yesterday trying to get one of my old Merrow sergers to form a stitch. I studied threading diagrams and tried every thread path possible. My memory has been chemically burnt with the chemo, “chemo-brain” it’s called. Finally, with nothing more to try, I changed out the thread and, yes, it stitched! I have to reorder threads since obviously the stash of polyester threads have aged to a bad point. Fortunately I don’t have many cones left from my last big purchase in 2005 and I’ll now switch brands and try to find the best colors.

Have I previously mentioned I love colored threads!

Happy Easter


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

6 responses »

  1. Getting older doesn’t mean we have to be “old and frail”. Enjoy looking after yourself and dressing up. I love high heals and the pain (at times) is worth it! Just not when I am out After going to see a Biggest Loser trainer at our gym I have taken the attitude of saying “I look hot!” when putting on my jeans rather than the old talk of “look at that roll, blubber, whatever”.

  2. That’s exactly what I’m talking about, Vicki, thanks for the additional good thoughts!

  3. Has your thread been talking to my thread? I just had to toss some wooly nylon … Maybe Ressy’s wand is working. I wonder if Liz is having a thread coop right now. Must go check. GRIN!
    With a dog named Golightly, how an you not be chic? I love the whole idea of redefining one’s image. This is a natural extension of your new approach to living! Can’t wait to see the reveal …

  4. Love love love this post Mary Beth and I am right behind you following your lead. You are a beautiful woman so flaunt it!

  5. MaryBeth, Thank you for a wonderful post. Every once in awhile it’s great to get a kick in the tush to remember to stand up straight and put on some make-up and heels and rejoice in our age. There has been a thread going on PR for awhile written by women who’re feeling “invisible”, and I just keep thinking: Invisible is as Invisible does. That great article by Sonya Rykiel confirms that (to me anyway).
    While in Detroit – if you get time – try to get out to Habermans Fabrics in Royal Oak.
    Meanwhile, parting shot, one of my BFF wrote a piece I think you’ll enjoy. She’s not much of a sewist, she keeps a blog for writing, but right now she’s so busy getting together a restaurant that she and her eldest daughter are opening this Spring that she’s not keeping up with her Monday posts – but the last one she wrote is a winner. JQ’s Loft

  6. Thanks for the link to JC’s Loft, Marji. I’m glad your friend has found her voice and is changing her status from cancer patient to cancer survivor. It’s definitely a process involving the very core of a person. It’s marvelous when change sneeks up on us, we who often try to induce change for the betterment of everyone around us. And even better when we put that extra umph into the presentation of ourselves to the world. Yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about!


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