The Blue Gardenia

Glamorous reds. Stylish updos. It's Oscar fashion, 2011. February 27, 2011 17:48 6 Comments

Allow me to be trite, dear readers. Please. Because red snatched my heart this year. (I know. So boring, isn't it? Oh. Well.) Favorite gown tonight, by far: Jennifer Hudson's tomato red Versace. Beautiful. Sexy. Love the hair. Love the earrings. Love the bracelet. Absolutely.

Sandra redeemed herself. I know you remember that I didn't like her too young, too hippie bangs from the Golden Globes. (You do remember everything I share. Right? Of course you do. Don't you?) But this strawberry Vera Wang was sexy and beautiful. And her updo was gorgeous and age appropriate. She looked like the enticing woman she is, not the teen-ager she hasn't been for a decade or two or three.

Loved Amy Adams 1940s film noir chanteuse silhouette designed by L'Wren Scott. I'd wear  this — if I spent more time lifting weights. And isn't the Cartier necklace so very Helen Grayle? 

Cate Blanchett disappointed this year. Normally, she stuns. She does. But this Givenchy Couture looked like someone threw battle armor, throw pillows and blueberry yogurt in the blender and hit puree. Uuuuggggghhhhh.

So, ever-so-appreciated readers, what were your favorites this year? Tell. Do.

Oh. Lest I forget, a most special thank you to His Bertness, who made a delicious, spicy pork roast (recipe from Paul Prudhomme). Yumbunnies. So good. (Yes. We ate in front of the TV tonight. All the better to ogle the fashion.)

Nix the nudes. Enchant me in leaf green, petal pink, sparkly black. January 17, 2011 15:31 7 Comments

Gg_catherine_lhuillier I confess: I did not watch all of the Golden Globes last night. I went to see an actual movie. (Yes. I left my house. I did. It happens. Occasionally.) Anyway. By the time I got home, the ceremony was well under way. So. I spent some time today surfing and surely, surely, I saw most of the dresses. And it seemed like most of them were flesh-toned. And I like nude. I do. But there was just too much of it.

My favorite, dress, without a doubt: Catherine Zeta-Jones' Monique L'Huillier. Wow. The color is exquisite. The design is elegant. Total 1950s glamour. I would so wear this. Absolutely. This is the gown I would bring home, swathed tenderly in glossy box and layer upon layer of tissue paper.

Gg_danes_ckc And my second favorite gown of the evening: the sleek Calvin Klein Collection column worn by Claire Danes. Love the color. Love the style. Love, love, love! Love. It is sexy. It is regal. Not your usual combination, I know. I do. But this number deserves both adjectives, in this blogger's humble O. Yes indeedy. And it looks comfortable, too. 

The glittery Marchesa that Olivia Wilde (or her stylist) picked out won my heart, too. Gg_olivia_wilde_marchesa Again, 1950s glamour. Love the girly silhouette. The sparkles. However. The hair. Yikes. This gown deserves something better than  beach-girl bangs. Perhaps an elegant French twist. Definitely an updo. Something sophisticated yet simple.

On the other hand, what was Sandra Bullock thinking? What? I am a fan. I am. Really. Admire her acting. Love her style. She's usually perfection on the red carpet. Usually. Not so last night. No. No way. That dowdy dress. (Designed, if you care, by Jenny Packham.) Those bangs.  Oh. My. Oh my oh my oh my oh my. My theory: She had plastic surgery and cut those bangs Gg_bullock_packem to distract the persnickety critics among us. That — or she was having a total mutton-dressed-as-lamb moment. Mmmmm. What do you think? Am I being too mean? I'm not, am I? Of course not. Never. On the other hand, did I mention that her hair looks stringy? Did you notice? Sandra, come on, girl. You're a style icon. Get with the program. Don't let us down.

So. Who were your favorites? Which dress would you pick for your moment at the podium? Which?

How to deal productively with your anger? Why, sew. Of course. November 17, 2010 09:15 13 Comments

OK. You'll admit it. You are annoyed about the decision on DWTS last night. Heck. You are pissed! Totally. First, Rick Fox, so sexy you could eat him with a spoon, was bounced, even though he was a far superior VCD_1125
dancer than Kurt Warner. Then elegant, graceful, no-dance-experience-to-her-resume Audrina Patridge was shown the door. And now, sexy, lithe Brandy booted, gracelessly, while reality TV starlet and presidential campaign veteran Bristol Palin, whom you'll admit has learned to be drug across the floor in the most simple choreography ever to be shown at this late date on the show, stays. Stays! In the finals. The finals! Isn't this show about dance? Maksim Chmerkovskiy's choreography for Brandy was difficult — and how — while Mark Ballas's choreography for Bristol was beginning-dance-class simple. And you're a trained dancer, so you know. You do. Grrrrrr. You wonder: Are so many white folks in America threatened by gorgeous black people like Fox and Brandy? Sure, Kyle Massey is still on the show. Sure. He is. And he deserves to be in the finals. He does. You won't argue that. But. He's childlike, delightful, totally non-threatening. He's the sweet and innocent saucer-eyed porter who ducks behind the bar in the 1930s screwball comedies when the silly white folk start throwing dangerous objects here and there.

Yes. You are angry. You are. 

So. What to do with your anger? What? How to deal with it productively? How? Sew. That is the answer. Sew. A lot. Cape. Slacks. Skirt. Top. Hood. All designed by Sybil Connolly. All gorgeous. All sophisticated. All extremely wearable. All from the late '60s. All included in Vogue Couturier Design 1125. And. Yes. It is available at The Blue Gardenia. Yes indeedy. So. Buy the pattern. And tell me what you think. Heck. Tell me what you think. Even if you don't buy the pattern.

Is criticizing fit classist? June 3, 2010 10:44 8 Comments

In a recent post, Gretchen of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing, faulted some ill-fitting garments she saw while out and about in New York. Her comments proved to be controversial. Boy. Was I surprised. You could have knocked me down with a feather. Really. One commenter found Gretchen's post not only offensive but classist.  Fit_herrera  

Naturally, this response made me cogitate. Contemplate. Ruminate. Darn it. Nix the big words. Do. I chewed over this, being the sensitive new-age dame that I am. And guess what, lovely readers? I do not think fit is a class issue, and I offer two photographs as proof.

The first is of a pair of slacks designed by Carolina Herrera, a designer I would wear — if only my budget agreed. This pic is from the catalog of a high-end retailer. And if you want these pants, you'll have to plunk down nearly $1,000. But. Take a moment. Look at the zipper! Look at the pleats! And these are on a malnourished model! Wait. Wait. I'm getting apoplectic. I am. Deep breath. OK. Note the pulling fabric at the top of the placket. These slacks don't fit properly.  

Pencil_skirt_tightThe second is an after photo from What Not To Wear. After! Now this is a show I watch. This is a show I enjoy. Absolutely. But despite the admonishments from Stacey and Clinton about the importance of good fit, I often find myself cringing at the makeovers. Look at this pencil skirt. It's a fabulous style. Truly. The high waist and belt are luscious. Love 'em. I do. But those wrinkles! Egads, this skirt is too tight. Way. Take a few inches off this skirt, and any hooker would be proud to wear it.

Don't get me wrong. I realize not everyone can afford a tailor. Heck, not everyone can afford new clothes. With a hubby whose job was outsourced last year, I know economic distress. But I also know well-heeled women who purposely refuse to wear any garment larger than a size 4, even though their bodies are a size 8. I know men who always buy high-water pants, even though they're nowhere near a pond.

So. What do you think, dear readers? Tell me. I'm listening.

Meet the fashion icon of my youth: My mother. May 9, 2010 18:46 2 Comments


And now please forgive me for taking a moment or two or three from the regularly scheduled programming to honor my mother. In the picture, above, from the late 1950s, note the chic bolero. Yes. I believe those are flowers in her hair. She's flanked by my dad and grandfather.

This is a favorite of mine because of the glamorous hair. It always reminds me of that saying " the higher the hair, the closer to God." My mother made many of her clothes, but this was an off-the-rack purchase.

In a stylish swing coat with Frosty.

Eating! A favorite pastime for us both. My mother did make this green dress. Butterick pattern, as I recall. All of her sisters had the same dress. Note the  glamorous hair. Always.

At my Aunt Kathleen's wedding.  
Do females still wear elegant corsages?


Oh. If only these two Oscar gowns were mine for the taking. March 7, 2010 17:55

J-lo_oscar Now, dear readers, I know I always promise to be brief when I share my thoughts on award show  fashion. I do. I know. And I always have the best intentions. Truly. I swear. (Or I would if my dearly departed grandmother had not always frowned on swearing.)

So. Quickly. Because the only way I could keep my eyes open tonight would be to use that nasty Clockwork Orange device. And I don't wanna. Because I do not like to suffer. I don't. Not one little bit.

So. Hold your breath no longer.

Favorite dress, bar none: J-Lo's Armani Privee. So fifties. So fab. And she always looks so bee-yoo-tee-ful. Know why? Cuz she is.Bullock_oscar

Second favorite: Sandra Bullock's Marchesa. Sparkly. Girly. Elegant. Dreamy as moonbeams. And didn't she just glow? Loved her rose-red lips. I did. I do. I also loved her side-swept straight long hair. Because it mirrors my current style. Which I am wearing because long hair requires fewer trips to the beauty salon. But that's another story.

(Excuse me for a moment. Time to switch Waylon for Ella and Nelson.) 

Sarah_jessica_oscarWhat, I must ask, what was Sarah Jessica thinking? This Chanel is a luscious color. But my warm and toasty feelings end there. My. Oh my. The less said the better.

Although I will say this does not look like a hug-friendly frock. I do love the makeup and hair. SJP's one caramel girl.

And Zoe Saldana's dress inspired love. It inspired hate. The full spectrum. As in, the bodice is outstanding. Totally. The skirt, though. Egads. It could be covering great granny's extra roll of toilet paper.  Blame Givenchy. Zoe, however, is pretty, pretty, pretty. As always.

So. There ya go. Now that I have done my duty, beloved readers, I am off to the land of Nod. 

The job search continues September 9, 2009 16:30

Job_search_continues Actually, His Bertness deserved an afternoon off. He's been working hard, writing cover letters and sending out resumes. And Henry Jones always works hard, protecting us. Absolutely. 

Let this be more than food for thought. I beg you. August 25, 2009 16:44

Today, I'll keep it simple, straightforward, succinct: See Food, Inc. For me. For yourself. For the planet.

OK. I'm stepping off my soapbox now and going back to A Closed Eye.

Oh, Oscar! Inspire me. Please. You owe me after Sunday night. February 23, 2009 15:42

Oscar_tomei I refuse to restrain my inner Ms. Snippy. She yearns to be free. She begs for release. And who I am I to tell her no? I won't I won't I won't. Especially after that boring Ambien-equivalent Oscar program last night. It seemed endless. Positively. And as dull as a sack of dirt. Oh. Yes. A heavy sack, indeed.

Where were the movie clips? The Oscar is — last time I checked - a movie award. I want to see clips. And what was up with the silly, time-wasting presentation of the acting awards by five former winners? And Hugh Jackman? Please. I want Jon Stewart. I want Steven Colbert.

But enough. On to the clothes. (Most of them were snore-inducing as well. Alas.)

Actually, now that I think about it, there were only two gowns I consider worthy of mention.

Marisa Tomei's pleated, architectural Versace. Astounding. Beautiful. Sexy. This is the way to bare a shoulder. Absolutely.

Oscar_fashion_beyonce Beyonce's gown has been the object of much derision. Seems some fashionistas decry it as worthy only of draping one's windows. I disagree. Totally. I love the leaf print and its reference to the 1940s. I love the bodice. I love the 1950s sexy chanteuse silhouette. 

And, by the way, just so you know: I do not want to see any more headlines that tout the revival of old Hollywood glamour. So overused. So worn out. So done. No more. News outlets, you should know better. For shame.

You caught me: I had my nose pressed against the window. Again. January 25, 2009 16:57

Kate_winslet_screen_actors It's Sunday night. An awards show was on. Can you guess where I was? Can you guess what I was doing? You can. I know it. There are no flies on you. You can put 2 and 2 together and come up with the proper sum.

So. You've been waiting for this, haven't you? Holding your breath, right? Tell me you were. Tell me you watched, too. Promise you'll share your opinions. Please. Even if you — sigh — disagree. Even if you think I'm full of it.

But. Enough meandering. Give me a drum roll, please. Something worthy of Gene Krupa. There you go. I like that.

Now. My favorites at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, in no particular order:

Kate Winslet's cobalt Narciso Rodriguez gown is aces with me. He's redeemed himself for that dreadful explosion that Michelle Obama wore on election night with this curve worshipper. Love it. Truly.

And Laura Linney can toss this coral Michael Kors my way when she's done with it. Love it. Absolutely. From the luscious color to the one-shouldered bodice. This is the dress from which dream evenings are made. Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Eva_longoria_sag Laura_linney_sag_awards Ditto for Eva Longoria's peachy froth of a gown. Adore the color. Adore its Ginger Rogers-ness. All Eva needs is Fred Astaire. This cupcake of a dress was designed by Jenny Packham. I know there are those who will quibble at this choice, who will find fault with the peplum, who will insist this dress is so darn sweet it could frost a cake. But. I have a weakness for frosting. Just don't skimp on the butter.

And. Speaking of food. I did take time off from glamour gazing to be a domestic goddess. (Yes, I know Martha would be appalled by the clutter on my countertops and the newspapers stacked on one end of the kitchen table. But, really, there's no need for her to know. Is there? Lips zipped and all that.) I baked pizza. I made the dough from scratch. Piled it high with grape tomatoes, yellow peppers, red onions. So tasty. So pretty. So healthy. And. For extra points on the DG test, I served the pizza with a salad of Arizona lettuces and lemon zest vinaigrette. Yum bunnies. 

I have lusted in my heart, dear readers. Yes indeedy. January 22, 2009 15:47 1 Comment


All right. I admit it. The gorgeous Tracy Feith dress that Michelle Obama wore yesterday morning to church inspired one of the seven deadly sins. Yep. You guessed it. Lust. Michell_obama_dress Or to be more specific — fashionlust: excessive love of another's clothing. Love this one. Love it. Love it. Love it. Abundantly. It's the perfect choice for one's first day at work. It's comfortable yet comely. Absolutely.

The simple  and hard to beat 1950s silhouette was made even more arresting by the print. If you want to make your own, try Simplicity 2338, copyright 1957. Simplicity claims it's simple to make. Note View 3, the black-and-white version. Didn't Skipper have one just like that?

We all make mistakes. Don't we? Even Ella. January 19, 2009 09:55 2 Comments

Oh. My. God. And that, my internet buds, is a prayer.  A prayer for organization. A prayer to stop clipping. A prayer to recycle Paul Krugman columns instead of saving them. (I could, after all,  just read his blog, The Conscience of a Liberal. ) A prayer to find CD jewel cases. Where do they go? Are they like that one sock in a pair? That one sock that scampers off when I'm not looking. Egads!


And speaking of deities: Thank God for Ella Fitzgerald. She calms me down. She reminds me that I should reach for perfection. Absolutely. Even if I never attain it. Even if I don't get past the first step on that particular stairway.

But. Chaos is not what I intended to blog about. Let me rein myself in. Whoa. Come back, Denise, come back. Your topic awaits you.

And that topic is . . . drumroll, boys and girls . . . Renee  Zellweger's frocks. This, inspired by Amanda, she of the evocative sense of place, she of Still Life in South America.

Frankly. I hated Renee's Golden Globes gown. It shocked me. Completely. I did a double take. She's usually picture perfect. Elegant. Sleek. Perfection. (To use that impossible word again. I refuse to ban it from my vocab. Despite its unpopularity these days.) As is, for that matter, Carolina Herrera, who designed both of these dresses. The black one — the miss by several miles, heck, the miss by several solar systems — is the Golden Globes nightmare.Reneech  The blue one, well,  I'd love to have it in my closet. Love it. It's floaty. Dreamy. Flattering. To the nth.

So. What was Ms. Zellweger thinking? She obviously misplaced her unerring sense of style. Perhaps it's run off to join my socks, my Best of Julie London and Squirrel Nut Zippers Perennial Favorites jewel cases. Anyway. I hope she finds it soon. Perhaps she can also tell my socks to come back home. And the jewel cases.

Meanwhile. I'll let Ella's Harold Arlen Songbook console me. But. I've got a right to hang around down around the river. I've got a right to moan and sigh. Mr. Arlen says so. And he wouldn't lie. I know it.

Do you think Mr. Blackwell ever tried a sunless tanning lotion? October 21, 2008 19:14 2 Comments

Mr. Blackwell, or as his momma tagged him, Richard Sylvan Selzer, has gone on to claim his reward, assuming there is one, in that fabulous fashion show beyond the clouds.

You remember Mr. Blackwell, don't you? He made those wicked Worst Dressed Lists that folks cared about in the '60s. But you knew that. And you probably didn't think he'd died years ago, as I did. (That's what happens when you go for a few years without a New York Times subscription.)  A few of my favorite Blackwell quips:

Camilla_and_her_hat Camilla Parker-Bowles: “In feathered hats that were once the rage, she resembles a petrified parakeet from the Jurassic age.”

Martha Stewart: “She dresses like the centrefold for the Farmer's Almanac.”

Elizabeth Taylor: “Looks like two small boys fighting under a mink blanket."

He was actually rather clever. Imagine my surprise upon reading the obits.

I am tempted to share my recent experience with sunless tanning lotion with you, dear and beloved readers. So tempted. I am. But in honor of Mr. Blackwell, you're spared. Today.