Monday, December 19, 2011

A Life Well-Lived: Bonnie Prudden

Bonnie Prudden, fitness guru

An early champion of physical fitness, Prudden was an author, instructor and entrepreneur who followed her own advice and exercised regularly until her death at 97 on Dec. 11.

Long before Michele Obama adopted her campaign against childhood obesity, Prudden had been part of a study team that documented America’s out-of-shape youth in 1955 for another president—Dwight Eisenhower. As a result of the report, Eisenhower called for the creation of “The President’s Council on
Youth Fitness.”

The woman who, with her husband, climbed the Matterhorn on her honeymoon was one of the first fitness instructors with a national presence on TV. An author of 15 books, Prudden developed exercise classes for babies, the blind , those who wanted to improve their sex lives or prevent incontinence. She invented exercise equipment, rock walls and a line of fitness apparel. That’s a full-body leotard of her design that Prudden is wearing on the cover of Sports Illustration.

Despite a broken pelvis in her 20s and a triple bypass in her 90s, she never stopped working out. “ You can’t run back the clock,” Prudden said, “But you can rewind it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Maryl tackles: Color Blocking, Another Fall/Winter Fashion Trend

As we move further into the Fall/Winter season, I’ve been noticing another fashion trend that is bold and eye-catching and yet easy to pull off. It’s referred to as color blocking. Actually there’s two looks I’ve been coveting; the other is pattern-mixing. It intrigues me and it can work with the right patterns but takes a lot of time and practice. If your ensemble hasn’t been thought out beforehand, it could be too much to subject yourself to if you dress on the go as I do. (Although I thought I was successful teaming up a floral blouse with a brown pinstripe pant but that’s as far as I got.) 

Pattern Mixing
Yves Saint Laurent & Costume National

Back to color blocking, which is much more effortless and a relief from the total black silhouette that has predominated the fashion scene for so long. It simply means the wearing of three or more clothing and/or accessory items of separate and different solid colors at one time. I believe it’s creative source was Piet Mondrian’s abstract paintings of colored squares, rectangles and thick black lines. Yves Saint Laurent used these as inspiration for his 1965 Mondrian day dress. There’s been a few designers this season mimicking that look as well. And J Crew has been long known for its unusual mixing of colors with its latest catalog and web site chock full of these chromatic ideas. 


J Crew

A dress, jacket or sweater may be a design of two or more colors itself making color blocking easy to pull off. I remember I once made a dress where the sleeves, bodice and skirt were each a different hue. (I was so ahead of my time!!) But if you want to really dive into the trend, you can start off easy by choosing from a family of analogous colors (per the color wheel) or by simply introducing a third color with an accessory like a belt or handbag, a bold piece of jewelry or even hosiery. I recently wore burgundy tights with my teal dress and carried a purple handbag. A teal skirt with a navy blouse and sweater coat was so easy I added a red purse. I was so comfortable with that the next time I swapped out the navy blouse for a salmon colored one. I feel I’m on my way now. 

My Color Blocking

Give it a try. It’s actually fun and an easy way to be a trend setter and look like you know what you’re doing on the fashion front. Start with accessories first and then analogous colors. Be brave and move to complimentary colors. Mix some orange with blue, some green with red and no black or white please. They’re not colors!

Color Wheel

Monday, December 5, 2011

Caryl says: It's beginning to look a little like Christmas

My garden is dormant. The Christmas tree awaits being cut until closer to The Day. So this weekend I went to The Phantom Gardener in the Hudson Valley to buy some holidays bulbs to cheer up the house and my pre-winter solstice blues. I bought a bunch of paper whites and three amaryllis bulbs in white, light pink, and wine rose. Planting them and watching them grow is sort of like having a living advent calendar (without the chocolate treats behind each door my children adored.) First I put eleven of the dozen paper whites in a Le Fanion polka-dotted green bowl filled with stones. (The red pitcher, which I plan to fill with ivy from my garden or boxwood mixed with lilies in a couple of weeks, is also from the same charming French store in Greenwich Village.)

I had one paper white bulb that wouldn't fit so I stuck it an unpolished brass bowl I had bought last spring in Orissa, India. All the other items the man was selling in a remote tribal village were shiny and bright but this one was dark with age and inattention. It was made by his grandfather, he told me. Now this bowl from a century ago and a half a world away gives me immeasurable pleasure sitting atop my fireplace mantle while I await its fragrant blossom.

Finally, I found an empty urn on the patio outside that my former boyfriend left when he moved back to the city and broke my heart. (There's some symbolism in the urn, no? ) I've always liked the lines of it, and the amaryllis and the abandoned vase seem happily at home atop the hope chest that had belonged to my ex-husband's mother (Is this some kind of memorial to dead love?) I suspect the many-hued amaryllis flowers will be glorious come Christmas--and my scarred heart filled with the joy that accompanies this time of year. After all, tis the season to be. . . and all that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Caryl wonders: What Makes a Book Worth Reading?

Lately, I have been stalled in my reading. Mostly because I am reading everybody else's recommendations. (Right now, my new book club's choice--Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers is simmering on my Sony reader.) The last book of my choosing was Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending, a slender hardbound I loved, both for the writing and its particular truth: that memory is unreliable, that truth is subjective.

My teacher-friend, who I wrote about in the recent Thanks post, suggested two books she thought I’d like, both by a young author, J. Courtney Sullivan. Commencement, Smith's debut novel, is the story of four Smith College friends and their “graduate school of life”, as I call it—their escape from the cloistered ivy-covered walls of an elite women’s college and entry into the unprotected adult world. Sullivan followed with Maine, a fictional study of a matriarchal Irish Catholic family at their beach house in Maine, three generations of women each dealing with their own demographically-correct challenge: motherhood, marriage, legacy.

I read them, I liked them, I’m not sure I can recommend them to you. They were were well-written-- even if the structure of alternating narrators in both books was repetitive and felt sometimes like an MFA exercise. They were certainly engaging; when I left my copy of Maine at Maryl’s beach house over the weekend, I ordered up the e-version to find out the ending.

My teacher-friend liked the books, I presume, because they were an insight into a familiar world. She’s Irish and a (lapsed) Catholic, her kids all have Ivy-League degrees and are forging their way in the world. Much of the same could be said of me (no Ivy degrees, but my girls are the products of a liberal arts education as well) but the books felt like "lit lite" to me. After reading them, I looked up Wikipedia’ definition of another common term for this genre of writing: chick-lit. Though it can be a derogatory label sometimes--though not necessarily so-- I think it applies here. The talented Sullivan is a still a chick, if you will. Her truths feel too new—not test-driven. I have no doubt she will grow in her craft—in time.

TIME! That’s my test, I’m afraid, of what I read. Is it worth my time? Does this writer know enough about life or has had a unique experience or a unique take on a common experience that can show me something about life or myself. Writing may be one of those things that actually gets better with age, where truth is not crafted but home-grown and then dissected, examined in the light of longevity.

I recently complimented a fiction writer I know (her last book published over a decade ago was The Black Madonna) on a short story she had written in her youth published in a long-defunct literary magazine. "It's wonderful,"I told her, "Nearly perfect. You should be writing now."  "But that was 25 years ago," she protested.  Think how much better your writing will be now, I thought to myself --in your second life. Writing always improves when you have a sense of an ending . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

THANKS . . .

In the past few weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving, I visited with three good friends from three separate chapters of my life. The first to arrive was Betsy. She and I had attended graduate school together at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Our last semester, which coincided with the Watergate investigation, we lived in Washington, D.C. and worked for the Medill News Service. It was both fun and exciting--and great training. In the intervening years, Betsy has married, gone to law school, had four children and made partner at not one but two firms. She was in New York to give a speech the morning after Halloween. On the night before, we met at dusk and walked to the World Trade Center memorial. It was the first visit for both of us, and we each touched the engraved names of those we knew who had lost their lives a decade before. It was a somber and emotional moment. Afterwards, we headed to the legendary Greenwich Village Halloween parade where we marched the length of the parade route in our work clothes (wishing we had Pan Am flight attendant costumes). Later we stopped for dinner shared a bottle of wine and talked late into the night. (Hope that speech went well, Bets!)

The next weekend was Veteran's Day and Joan, my college friend and sorority sister, came for a three-day, jam-packed weekend. We saw plays, visited museums and galleries, walked the High Line and went to the WTC memorial. This time was even more moving with so many veterans and members of the armed forces in attendance. Joan is a dedicated history teacher in a girls’ prep school outside Boston—and I knew being at the site of this tragic event would be incorporated into her lesson plans. The previous two years, Joan had won fellowships that took her to China and India. Those experiences too added depth to her curriculum. Education is Joan’s second career, if not her second life. Previously she had been a stay-at-home mother of three children, now grown and living independently—no small feat in this economy.

Then, last weekend, I flew to Columbia, Missouri to see my high school friend, Mary Kay. Like me, MK is one of the WOWs--Women Of the World-- a club we started senior year to keep us in touch when we dispersed to various colleges. While in Missouri, I spoke to MK’s classes at the university’s journalism school where she teaches advanced writing. She hasn’t always been a professor. In her previous life, she raised two sons as a single mother, survived a nine-day coma in her 30s and for the past decade was a devoted caregiver to her mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s. She now has a new boyfriend, four grandchildren and a fourth book in progress. (You'll read more about her second life in a future profile.)

Seeing these friends back-to-back reminded me how grateful I am to have them in my life, and how lucky I am to have the time to spend with them. Friends are our living history. They are the eyewitnesses to the people we used to be--and the guides to those we yearn to become. They are not only the keepers of our past lives but they are the nurturers of our future hopes and dreams. This year I am thankful for many things--not least my beautiful daughters-- but particularly for these and other friendships that have sustained me throughout my life. And, this Thanksgiving like many Thanksgivings before, I will take my seat beside one of my dearest friends, my fellow sojourner and co-founder of the Second Lives Club. By the way, Maryl not only is an excellent cook but she sets a beautiful table.


I won’t be going off to a soup kitchen this Thanksgiving to help serve turkey dinner to those less fortunate. I admire those that do and am jealous of the satisfaction they get from doing so but I can’t. I can’t because I’m giving dinner to 23 family and extended family members at my home. None are needy, thankfully; they-- like me-- want to be near relatives and friends they care most about during the holidays. We also have three birthdays from the preceding week we will celebrate. I’m more than willing to accommodate.

I’m giving up the week to shop, pre-cook certain dishes and prepare the house for day and some overnight guests. It’s a large responsibility to take on Thanksgiving dinner for such a broad crowd not so much because of the work effort but because you have to live up to all the holiday tastes and traditions from your guests’ past experiences. I don’t really have any special recipes; I pull ideas from a combination of the NY Times food section, Martha Stewart Living and New York magazine and some online food sites each year. I love to try out new vegetable dishes for the few vegetarians at the table and to add some adventure to an otherwise basic meal of meat and potatoes. This year I was much better at the delegating too.

So at my table aside from my husband (soup and salmon) and daughter (birthday 1), there’ll be my brother (homemade cranberry sauce) and my sister (pies, pies and more pies), her husband and their three pre-teen and teenage daughters (cheesecake). My husband’s two sisters, one (roasted shrimp) with her husband and her grad school son, the other (stuffed mushrooms and sweet potatoes) with her husband, two out of school but working (Yay!) sons, and Elsie, her mother-in-law, will all be joining the group. And then there’s my stepson (18lbs of mashed potatoes!) with his fiancĂ©e, Nicole, who is already expecting our next grandchild but I’m not counting her/him. Add to that Nicole’s stepdad; Irene (birthday 2), my mother’s friend since childhood (very special since both my parents can only make it in spirit) and, of course, Caryl (cheese, olives and breads) and my goddaughter, Catherine (birthday 3), whose sister is away at school in Toronto and won’t be at the table for the first time in years. (Why Canada has to celebrate Thanksgiving in October..?) What we’ll do for the ones we love. I wouldn’t give it up for the world!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Meet our 1st 2nd Life Profile: Susan Lynton, Part 2

We were talking about how your personal and home life has changed with your second life.

Well, and I have more time to spend at my home in a small village in Provence. It’s an old house that was actually refurbished on its original medieval foundation. I bought it ten years ago and completely renovated it as a safe haven for me to retreat to and as an investment. I had lived in Spain as a child and my daughter was married in France and I think France has the best medical care which is important to me and my husband.

We also recently did a major renovation on our house in Westchester (NY) just because we have lived here for so long and things were falling apart. We took a chance with a young architect and aside from the repairs and a new roof, we added a new garage, closets and an apartment for my mother who lives in Texas and will be visiting more often. We also opened up the overall space and painted everything white. It’s airier now and I feel I have more space to breath. And I had already done over my bathrooms. I love my shower with its massage jets. It’s where I get my best ideas for my novels……the stories I’m spinning and the characters I’m creating come together there. It’s where they first become my friends.

What about friends….your real living friends not the characters from your books? 

I have lots of friends, some dating back to my childhood but fewer friends close to home except when I’m in France. There are a lot of expats in my small village community and it’s easier to have and hold friendships there. The atmosphere is more conducive to long walks and chats in outdoor cafes and town squares. I started my non-profit with friends from my village and you will find aspects of their personalities in the characters from my novel. 

What are your thoughts on aging?

On a good day I don’t think about it. On a bad day I think I have every cancer imaginable. Seriously, I like the natural way European women age. They don’t feel the need to look 20 years younger. Women who take care of their bodies naturally are more appealing and real than those who feel the need to have plastic surgery. My mother is 86 but looks 15 to 20 years younger because she’s still active and engaged. But I do still dye my hair and last time as a kind of homage to my age I did have my colorist leave the gray around my ears.
Any final words for the other members of our community? 

I think if you keep engaged as I’ve been saying it’s possible to be happier and more fulfilled in one’s second life. Thanks to advances in medical care and technology we can change our direction midstream. It’s great to be part of a community and a generation that has this opportunity. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Meet our 1st 2nd Life Profile: Susan Lynton

Susan Lynton grew up in a military family and had the usual experiences that come with that kind of a life, like living in a few countries and many states and attending 12 different schools before college. She had already been a film producer/writer and mother before entering the corporate world around the dotcom era and eventually being downsized. Now she’s returned to her first love, writing, and just completed her first novel.  Maryl had a chance to ask her more about how she’s conducting her second life.

Was there an event or an “aha” moment when you realized that your life needed to change?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Second Look: Charlotte Rampling

“You wake up one day, and you’re one day older,” says Charlotte Rampling. “You either accept it or you don’t.” Aging is just one of many topics including love, death and desire that the cult actress discusses in the new biographical documentary, “Charlotte Rampling: The Look".  Her musings are intercut with scenes from her many films, among them “Georgy Girl”, "The Verdict”, and “Under the Sand”.

The documentary is hardly a monologue, however. Director Angelina Maccarone brought together family, friends and confidantes—presumably of Rampling’s choosing--to stimulate the conversations. In one of the film’s segments on the subject of beauty, author Paul Auster tells Rampling, who turned 65 this year, she is as attractive now as at any age--and then quickly adds, like my wife (the writer, Siri Hustvedt). Described as an “exotic beauty” with “chilly sensuality” by reviewers, Rampling acknowledges in the documentary that she has avoided plastic surgery because, she says, everyone ends up looking the same. Her sultry hooded eyes may eventually keep her from seeing, she admits.

Earlier this year at Rome’s film festival where “Eye of the Storm”, another of her new films was screening, Rampling answered reporters' questions about growing older as an actress. “Who wants to grow old? Who wants to get lines?” In the movie, she plays a dying wealthy woman in her 70s in a dysfunctional family.” Rampling said that by allowing herself the “luxury” of being old, even ugly and unattractive while acting brought “extraordinary” rewards to the role. Rampling seems to have bypassed the film industry’s notorious age discrimination. Along with the documentary, she appears in two films that will be out soon. One is “Julia”, a thriller directed by her son Barnaby Southcombe. (In “The Look”, she and her son spar in some edgy but endearing acting exercises.) In the other movie “Melancholia“ from Lars von Trier, she plays the director’s now deceased mother whom he hated when she was alive.

Rampling has never shied away from controversial roles, whether it was “Max Mon Amour” where the title character was a gorilla or the infamous “The Night Porter". Legendary critic Pauline Kael described Rampling’s role in that movie as “degrading to women.” More recently, New York Times reviewer Stephen Holder said about Rampling in “The Look”: she's “an endlessly watchable mystery, an aloof but affable sphinx.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Caryl and Maryl discover: The Fountain of Youth

When we started Second Lives Club, one of our goals was to destigmatize aging. At first we couldn’t believe that we ourselves had crossed the border into a scary new decade. We didn’t feel our age, we hoped we didn’t look it, and our lives certainly didn’t resemble those of our parents when they were our age. We—and many of our friends -- were starting new careers, learning new skills (from Arabic to Bach to blogging), still raising children thru their prolonged adolescence (and often still living at home), traveling the world, running triathlons and falling in love all over again. Sometimes when we looked in the mirror we didn’t quite recognize ourselves but there was no denying the fire in our eyes and in our bellies. We had enough enthusiasm and energy for at least two lives. Through triumphs and tragedies, twists and turns, we have found our way and learned from our successes as well as our failures to create a more meaningful, joyful life. A second life. Why should we hide our beautiful, older faces?

One of our favorite bloggers, Tish Jett from “A Femme d'un Certain Age,” has been publishing photos from her readers in a glorious gallery of “Your Faces Through the Ages” for the last couple of weeks. It's been a refreshing change from the bombardment of images of women we often see in the media. (Think young, thin, vacant.) The women on Tish’s blog are in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. They have in common the insatiable urge to continue to make more of their lives. And, they share, in the vocabulary of the site: “A joive de vivre.”

When we started Second Lives Club less than a year ago and with more than a little trepidation, we each chose a nom de plume for our individual posts and showed ourselves only in silhouette. Well, we’ve come out of the shadows (see About Us), and we are taking our "banner" women with us (see About Them) into the limelight. We will be continuing to add new photos to the banner. So be sure to check often. You may even see yourself (Mary Kay!!!). And, soon we will
also be launching profiles of women describing their

second lives in their own words with trademark honesty, humor and humility.

While we are talking about coming out and owning our age, we got brave and sent a photo (see above) to “A Femme d'un Certain Age.” Thank you, Tish, for adding us to your sorority. “You look so happy,” Jett wrote in an email informing us she had posted the picture. “Maybe reinvention really is the true fountain of youth. Who knew?”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Caryl reads: The Red Book

Someone recently gave me the galleys of a novel that comes out next spring called “The Red Book”. The reason for this unanticipated gift was because of my fascination with all things Harvard. (More about that later). The eponymous Red Book, for those unfamiliar with this tome, is a collection of short essays (three to five paragraphs is the suggested length), prompted by the Harvard alumni office and written by former students summing up their professional and personal accomplishments over the previous half-decade. These mini-memoirs are then published in a hard-bound book with a bright red cover and poured over by those who contributed (and those who declined) to see how they measure up against the only meaningful cohort—their classmates from the same year.

Author Deborah Copaken Kogan (Harvard, Class of ‘88) uses fictional entries from the red book as a structural prop to follow four Harvard women and their classmates as they come together for their 20th reunion weekend in June, 2009. Two decades after graduation, these women have for the most part all the accoutrements that accompany an ivy league degree: important jobs, successful marriages to successful men, brilliant children, beautiful houses, and second homes in beautiful places. But over the last few years, the real world--a deep recession, the deaths of parents, spouses and friends, infidelities and infertility—have begun to intrude. The women are faced with the inevitable mid-life question for which even a Harvard education doesn't provide an answer: What’s it all about?

Kogan's novel unfolds with even more questions. Should a high-powered banker leave her husband for her freshman boyfriend and first love? Should a stay-at-home mother of four children figure out a way to follow her deepest passion--the stage? Should the perfect wife mother and former Harvard "it girl" come out as a lesbian and start a business to support her family? Should a widowed foreign correspondent forgive her philandering new boyfriend and have his baby? These are just some of the plot twists Kogan's characters face. Each woman inevitably has to deconstruct her own biography and figure out how to rewrite or edit her life so the next entry in the red book will reflect more accurately the life she truly wants to be living. Or, as we like to say here at our blog: Your consciously-constructed second life. By the end of the book, Kogan’s four Harvard women of the Apocalypse are well on their way. The book concludes with future entries to the red book on the occasion of their 25th reunion. And, these newly-examined lives of the four women are well-worth reading.

* * * * *
By the way, I am thinking of writing my own entry summing up my past five years. The University of Dayton (where I got my BA) couldn’t care less but I think it will be instructive, at least for me. I am already realizing how much I’ve accomplished in terms of living authentically in the last half-decade. Why don’t you do a quick sub-total yourself? You can't see anything looking forward--the future's mostly white space--but the past can be illuminating.

(Photo Caption: Some of my red books, from left: my Kate Spade planner from 2005, my Filofax from 2002, my Kindle (a Christmas gift from my daughters, 2008), On Becoming a Person by Carl W. Rogers, copyright 1961 ( from the Chicago public library taken out --and never returned--OMG!!! --1972), The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan, copyright 2012; front center:my lizard Smyson date book from 2010, my Smyson address book (a Valentine's Day gift, 2009)

Post Script: If you want to sample Kogan's writing, see Second Thoughts for her non-fiction memoir.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Maryl supports: The Occupy Wall Street protests

I'm thinking of joining the Wall Street rally this week.  Something about it just seems right.  Maybe it's taking me back to our protests of the 70's or maybe I'm just fed up with the continuing self-serving and unchecked trickery of the financial community.  
I had recently been in several discussions with friends about our economic crisis and the lack of accountability and corrective measures being taken for the future.  And that “the people” would need to take a stand since our politicians and civic leaders haven’t a clue or the clout or the inclination to do so.  Then  Occupy Wall Street happened and I was reminded of my earlier days when protest rallies for peace and women, racial and gay rights were fairly common.  What had happened since then?  Was it complacency or a better quality of life that had moved us back from the brink of despair and frustration.

I was delighted and supportive to see this effort being made but ambivalent when my daughter said she was going to Wall Street to find out what it was about and take pictures.  The media really only began to more fully cover the event after last Saturday’s arrest of 700 protesters.  I was nervous but felt I couldn’t keep her from experiencing one of our inalienable rights to protest and speak out….as long as we don’t stop commerce or traffic or provoke the nice policemen.  After all my parents didn’t object when I took off with friends to Washington DC to rally against the Viet Nam war. 

There’s a lot more organizing that is needed and goals and demands must be clarified before this Wall Street movement can have any kind of a positive impact.  But it's only three weeks old and already  the numbers are building and the rallies spreading rapidly across the nation.  Could it be a counterweight to the Tea Party movement or a way to pressure Congress to do something about regulation and job creation?  Wall Street workers (most of whom work uptown) have become vocal defending their work ethics and comparing themselves to those making up the 99%.  I’d hate to see the discourse going down this road and becoming personal.  The issues are with the financial institutions as a whole that are not going to self-regulate or change their marketing of products that have made them wealthy.  That’s got to come from somewhere else.  That's why I'm thinking of joining the Occupy Wall Street rally this week. It's the least I can do and it actually feels like the right thing to do....again.

All photos by Svetlana Blasucci

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Maryl finds: Five fall fashion trends for all ages and sizes

What’s in my closet for fall?  I’ve attended Fashion’s Night Out; was early to the Jill Sander (+J) designer launch at Uniqlo; was one of the multitudes repeatedly kicked off the Target website for their latest Missoni designer promotion; shopped all my favorite department stores, boutiques, web sites and my closet.  (Caryl even stood in line at the new Century 21 grand opening.)  I’ve assessed the fall fashion looks through the second life filter and here’s my findings.  There's five trends that are fitting for all ages and sizes and that can take us through fall and winter 2011-12.  They are:

 1)    Simple sweaters and skirts (or pants).  They’re never out of style, just don’t pick out another black cardigan like Caryl!  So I did manage to score a couple of Missoni pieces which will work great with brown and black skirts I had from past seasons.  (In fact the black one is also Missoni but purchased at an end of season sale at Sak’s.)
2)      Tall black leather boots.   I mean real talllll….almost thigh high and you don’t need a heel.  What could be sexier aside from a thick platformed highhhh heel but who can walk in them?  (I’m not that well balanced – I can barely do tree in yoga class!)  I found these boots discounted at a department store outlet (Neiman Marcus)…probably there because they seemed like too much boot.  But not so.  The best news is that they fit up and over my calves.  I finally have a boot that I can wear over my pants without the zipper getting stuck half way up.
       Dior                                  Kate Spade                     Michael Kors
 3)      Reptile shoes or handbags or both, preferably black and white or two contrasting tones.  It’s the new "leopard print" for this year.  Of course the real thing will cost you in the four digits range but the reptile leather printed versions are quite attractive as well.  I have that Michael Kors tote in a shopping cart right now online at Bloomingdale’s!
Pendant against teal (the new black) dress
 4)      Long chain with a big pendant.  There’s some fabulous jewelry designers and stylists at work out there but who has the time to pile all those necklaces and bracelets and rings on?  Simplify!  I’ve seen quite a number of dresses and sweaters adorned with an effortless long chain – about 36 inches  - and an easy swinging pendant.  I just attached a couple of chains I found in my jewelry box and added a large locket.  I’m also eyeing one by designer AlexisBittar.  (Accessories are what differentiate you and make people take notice.  Shop your basic dresses, skirts and pants in your closet and make them look new with powerful accessories.)
Black wool +J sheath 
 5)      Fur accents.  I apologize now if this is offending anyone but if it’s any consolation the trend is not full length fur coats but fur trimmed coats, dresses, boots, handbags, gloves even jewelry.  Fur around collars and cuffs on coats and dresses isn’t anything new although the coats I’ve seen lately have the cuffs trimmed to the elbows and the collars plain with the fur on the bottom almost to the waist.  But an elegant fur collar on a simple coat and dress does wonders to not only liven it up but to take the focus away from a worrisome neck and chin line.

What to wear for fall?  It's really easy.  Shop the stores, the web and most important your closet; mix the old with the new, patterns with your basics, reptiles, fur - faux or real if you like - topped or rather bottomed off with more boot than you're used to. And don't forget the importance of accessories-- some safe choices (sentimental lockets) or not (Lucite baubles).  Fall wardrobe 2011 done; case closed!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Caryl takes: A SECOND LOOK

Is she or isn't she? That's one of the questions.

This week's New York Magazine reprises the famous--or maybe infamous--cover of a pregnant, naked Demi Moore on Vanity Fair some years back. The New York cover, like the story inside "Parents of a Certain Age", is bound to stir some debate (but probably not about the nudity this time). The cover headline queries: "Is She Just Too Old For This? New parents over 50--child-rearing's final frontier." Writer Lisa Miller (herself a first-time mother in her 40s) tells the real-life stories of new mothers who conceived in late middle age. The article asks: "Is there anything wrong with being 53 and pregnant?"

I have another question: Is the woman on the cover a journalistic example of later-life pregnancy--or is she a modern miracle of photo-shopping? And, if the latter is the case, is there anything wrong with a magazine that tampers with reality to sell copies? A provocative story gets a provocative cover? Hmmm. . . I have many thoughts but let's hear yours first. What do you think of the cover? True or false? And, what do you think of the topic? What age do you think is the medical and/or moral ceiling for conception?