First Fashion …

The Obamas at The Inauguration - synchronized dressing

The Obamas at The Inauguration – synchronized dressing                                                                                                                           Getty Images

A moment to take in the First Fashion from the Inauguration

Michelle Obama has great style. What I love most about our First Lady’s fashion sense is that she truly owns it. She knows what works for her and how she likes to present herself. Every time she steps out she makes a statement – one that says chic and approachable at the same time. Today, all three Obama women made statements, and the First Fashions were so well coordinated  …

… and for the second time, Michelle Obama chose a custom Jason Wu design for the Inaugural balls. I love this color red; she wears it so well.

What do you think?

The Inaugural Ball - Michelle Obama in Jason Wu

The Inaugural Ball –
Michelle Obama in Jason Wu                                                                                                                        Getty Images

Breaking news: no sleeves!

Today Show's Anchor, Natalie Morales

Today Show’s Anchor, Natalie Morales

Have you turned on the news lately? Anchor women are going sleeveless and everywhere you turn, you find this new uniform; sleeveless blouses/dresses and exposed arms – even in the cold winter months. I’m wondering … who sent these women the memo?? Could it be a response to our First Lady’s penchant for sleeveless dresses? My mother, Claire, and my neighbor, Jean, first brought this phenomenon to my attention. Initially, I noticed just a handful of participants, but now I see that among the younger news women the trend is spreading. Everyone is dressing this way; local newscasters to more well-known names, like NBC’s Natalie Morales and ABC’s Katie Couric.

Should we be reading into this? Is it just a passing fancy or simply a passing thought? Do we care?

What do we think?

Irina and Anna

Mother and Daughter - Irina and Anna

Irina and Anna are mother and daughter. Their family moved to New Jersey from Russia just two years ago, turning their entire lives around, because since she was fifteen, Irina knew in her heart that “she didn’t want to grow old in Russia.” We sat down for a conversation and talked about their life in Russia, what life is like in today’s Russia, and both American and Russian style. I walked away smiling, knowing that I spent time with two extraordinary women, and learned a little about their world as well! Here are Irina and Anna:

Irina: When I stopped speed skating at 21, it was a very difficult time for me. I had always had my skating and only my skating; I was living in a bubble without having to step into the real world. Then the sports ended and I had to figure out what I would do next. I was also married at 21, so my life changed in that way, too. My husband and I first attempted to leave Russia when we were newly married, and we moved to Holland as aux pairs. That didn’t work out, but it led me to my next opportunity, because it’s the little details that are important ..

The woman with whom I had worked as an aux pair, had a friend who was just starting out in publishing; he would eventually become the owner of one of the largest publishing houses in Russia. Through that initial connection I ended up working for him and began a long career in publishing …

During that time, I collected beautiful, high-end clothing for my work wardrobe. At one time, I had 10-12 Louis Vuitton handbags! Today’s Russian style is sophisticated. Russian women spend time selecting clothes and are very aware of the details of dress. They appreciate beautiful things and will spend more money buying them. They love labels like Chanel (especially the older women) and Dolce & Gabbana.

(I asked Irina to compare today’s fashion with the old Soviet Union … )

Growing up, we didn’t have choices. Everyone was forced to wear the same things. I didn’t dress in color: my clothing was gray, brown or black. My girlfriend’s aunt had connections and she always wore bright, colorful clothing! I wanted to look like her!” ~ Irina

Anna:Some people here (in the United States) don’t want to make the effort with fashion. In Russia, everyone dresses carefully and with attention to the details. Even my friends who wear uniforms to school will take care in putting their outfits together: adding a  pencil skirt, a nice blouse, great shoes, special handbags, etc. Everyone in Russia has a good-sized handbag and men and women carry big wallets as well  … no one wears backpacks in Russia! They prefer to carry totes! When I first moved here, people couldn’t understand why I carried a tote and not a backpack. Friends still tell me that I dress with a European attitude but I don’t see it. ~ Anna

Much to say; I would love to have another conversation with Irina and Anna

Our mothers’ daughters …

Lisa with her mother’s sweaters, circa 1950s

This Thanksgiving I will be thinking of my mother, Claire, and all the wonderful things that she has passed on to me, preserving our love.

This story starts with a sweater. Recently, when I was spending time with my friend Lisa, I happened to be wearing the gray sweater that my mother had given me. Lisa asked me about it. It’s such a favorite that I was happy to tell its story. My mother was partial to this beloved sweater. Simple and classic, it has a self-made tie that wraps around the neck – truly unique. My mother had worn it and loved it for years, then passed it to me. This gray sweater has had a long life.

Our conversation reminded Lisa that she had a few sweaters that her mother had passed down to her. Amazing, because these particular sweaters were originally worn by her mother, Jean, 55 years ago when she was in her early 20’s. We pulled them out and gazed at them with great interest; they looked like the clothes we have seen in the films of the 1950s! Lisa said that she had worn them all at one time or another and that her daughter, Sarah, had also worn the sweater with the pink and green flowers when she was a sophomore in high school.

Intrigued, I asked Lisa if I could speak with her mother about the sweaters. Jean’s thoughts: “I had a little girl. I would have loved to pass anything to my little girl … It’s endearing. You want your daughters to have everything you had. I think most mothers think this way.” I, too, am my mother’s only daughter and I know that she feels the very same. Jean also told me that she gave Lisa two dolls that were given to her as a child when she was just five or six. She now has two granddaughters to pass these dolls to, and just like the dolls themselves, one of her granddaughters is blond – the other, brunette. I asked Jean if she played with her dolls when she was young. No, she wasn’t a doll person, but her mother loved the dolls and made all of their clothes.

Lisa has worn her sweaters as I have worn mine. We agree that they are dear to us. In a time when so many things are disposable, these loving keepsakes are forever.

What do you think?

Jean’s childhood dolls, passed down to Lisa and her two granddaughters