The Gilded Lily goes for coffee

When one rolls with The Gilded Lily, it’s best to have lots of stamina for change. Routines? Kept to a minimum. Favorites? Revolving. Styles, events, and surroundings? The fresher the better.

At 70+, friends are about the only thing she tolerates for longer than a season—but if she smells stagnation, watch out.

Since I’m already on notice for preferring to talk versus text, I’ve been trying to step up my game. Luckily, the last time we were planning an outing I had a new extra-funky coffee place to dangle in front of her.

I arrived to find Lily in a little hot-off-the-rack H&M skirt doing what she does best: gilding.

The Gilded Lily doing what she does best: gilding

She’d tossed an outrageously feminine “sweatshirt alternative” over everything, and though I’d encouraged her to buy the topper while she was enabling ME to buy a rouched black satin tamale skirt, I’d forgotten just how much pale beach-glass blue makes Lily’s skin and eyes glow.

Given how gorgeous she looks in soft beachy shades, Lily knows it kills me to see her in brights...

Probably because she is generally trying to express her inner Paris Hilton while I am generally beseeching her to embrace her inner Michelle Pfeiffer.

Just in terms of colors, I swear!

so when she humors me you'd better believe she adds on-trend wedge shooties lest anyone think she's a powderpuff

With lots of soft shades + statement jewelry + trendy wedge “shooties,” her coffeehouse outfit made us both happy. Which no doubt means the topper’s days are numbered.

Forget Little Red: The Gilded Lily proves grandmas can rock a hood like nobody's business

I know I shouldn’t be sad when my favorite Lily pieces end up in the bottom of some bag headed for donation. But then I’m the woman who retreaded 5-year old boots—OF COURSE I’m going to have something in my eye when the topper vanishes during one of Lily’s frequent been there done that clothing purges.

[And if she gives that opal-y ring away without offering me right of first refusal….]

But that’s why I need someone like Lily in my life: to show me how to live with my head pointed forward, not cricked-neck from looking back. To demonstrate an alternative to evoking memories via the security blanket of objects. To remind me that when you travel through life focused on collecting moments instead of things, there’s always room for one more.

Vacationing like the other half lives [pt 1]

For the unabashedly shallow such as myself, having champagne taste on a beer budget often triggers heartbreak, greed, and temporary conversion to Marxism.

Refreshingly, however, tales of time spent in plush hotels or resorts rarely bestir my darker emotions. Of course I’m envious that people are ON the vacations themselves. But while I can and will admire larger-scale luxurious accommodations from an aesthetic standpoint, I’m always shocked that folks don’t see how such structures tend to attract the wrong sort of element…the human element.

Now as someone who skews cantankerous even on good days, I’ll cheerfully admit that I’m generally fed up to the back teeth with people breathing my air (let alone requiring my input or patience) by the time I’m slated to get away. Staff, guests, random visitors: whether it’s all or none of the above under discussion, the thought of being unable to escape from depending on, interacting with, or seeing others makes me cringe.

My god, a vacation shouldn’t be like everyday life!

As a result of my oft-fluctuating tolerance for others, MY ultimate luxury is being alone—or with a desired travel companion—in a beautiful-to-me setting that lets me forage-and-feed for myself. Sure, my inclinations require me to forgo room service and other potential indulgences. But give me a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, a bathroom that functions, a back-to-basics kitchen, and windows that contain views of more things than people, and I’m ecstatic.

But then a favorite childhood/forced-communal-life activity was locking myself in the bathroom with a book to get some mental and physical space, so I get that I’m a little…high-strung. I understand others might be less averse to sharing their vacation time with strangers, and I don’t expect to sway anyone from their preferences toward my Garbo-esque desire for privacy.

Even if my side can suuuuure be pretty:

Ringing in 2011: For $125/night all-in, this super-private studio apartment gave me---and Mr Vix---charm and a spectacular view of the South Bay (Los Angeles) coastline

And/or visually stimulating. And/or serene.

My past studio apartment successes include a ~ $100/night Arsenale-area find in Venice (IT) and an $85/night place on a 3-acre upcountry Maui fruit farm in the vicinity of Oprah's Hawaii spread

I have to admit, however, that my most recent vacation rental upped the fabulous, darling! quotient quite a bit. Luckily, having the stylish Ms-69ish-going-on-16 (aka The Gilded Lily) deliver Mr Vix and me to the airport prepped us for leaving the mundane behind in exchange for hot-tub-overlooking-the-Pacific hedonism:

(L) Ms-69ish-going-on-16 (aka The Gilded Lily) models her ski bunny chic after delivering us to the airport; (R) the owner's house was below the rental, and its outdoor, ocean-view hot tub was ours to use...a welcome treat post-sightseeing and on NYE

Leave it to the PNW-ensconced Ms Lily to capture a certain segment of the LA style zeitgeist with her ski bunny chic—a look I soon saw on many a woman bravely navigating 55-and-sunny temperatures.

During our bon voyage moment, Lily had ordered me to enjoy the hell out of myself while gone. So I proceeded to carry out her directive by doing lots of nothing and at least a few wee somethings.*

Since Mr Vix and I couldn’t help but feel that we should live up to our living quarters, he and I decided to gallivant in the hills with Los Angeles at our feet…

While the sculptural Griffith Observatory puts its focus on the stars above, LA shines below

…though we also made sure to have a night on the town where the focus was on coastal curves.

On the Santa Monica Pier, everything sparkles---including amusement park rides and coastal curves

While those adventures were wonderful, our taco consumption was spiking wildly and we were doing an awful lot of sitting; it started to seem prudent to think of our arteries. Alas, having been spoiled by a few days of solitude, the idea of exercising cheek by sweaty jowl with the masses seemed rather…common.

The solution? We opted to climb 4 of the many “hidden stairways” tucked into LA’s city neighborhoods and coastal regions—as well as a muddy-from-unusual-rains trail that lured us in with the promise of ocean views:

(L) A fast-moving Mr Vix adds another set of tucked-away stairs, this time in Pasadena, to our wanderings; (R) a short-but-rather-steep hike in Temescal Gateway Park eventually rewards with ocean views

The trail’s viewpoints were definitely superior to those of a gym…

As we tromped up the trail, the sun set on houses and ocean

…and the hidden staircases were a voyeur’s delight.

A Palos Verdes-area stairway gives glimpses of a rather unusual yard

Feeling there was something to be said for flatter zip codes, however, we made sure to explore notorious, multifaceted, irrepressible Venice Beach by day after having walked the Venice-Santa Monica boardwalk at night.

Winter foliage on one of Venice California's famously lush, traffic-free walk streets

If only I could bottle that blue: Winter sun shines on the architecture and art of Venice (CA)

I mean my Persnickety Bohemian side would have RAGED had I dared to skip Venice Beach. Especially as I’d packed my two peeeeenk Missoni fabric-by-the-yard skirts knowing I’d be in boho’s beach blanket bingo backyard!

Unfortunately, even drenched in color and pattern I skew more “uptight broad wearing clothes borrowed from groovy goddess-type pal” than anything else. Ms Madeline (who kindly allowed me to share a few of her South of France photos here) gave me the rose/grey/black velvet scarf several years ago. Having known me for nearly three decades, she understands I’m happiest when my more free-spirited side gets the attention it deserves, and I try to keep her gift in frequent rotation as a reminder of that.


When in Rome/SoCal beach towns: Indulging my Persnickety Bohemian side with pattern, texture, and another of my Missoni-fabric-by-the-yard skirts

Truthfully, it WAS a little nippy for a SoCal winter, and my coat was usually buttoned...but how could I resist showing slivers of my Barely Boho outfits, comprised of scarves + two peeeeenk Missoni-fabric-by-the-yard skirts?

As the clock started ticking down on my time away and I started to ruminate on all the places I wouldn’t get to see, my Awww Ya Big Lug Boots (happy to be part of my Barely Boho outfit) gave me a swift kick in the caboose. They were thrilled to have the chance to heel-ball-toe their way down new streets, rejuvenated and ready for action; shouldn’t I be focused on enjoying the same? Touché, boots, touché.

Next: Part 2 of Vacationing like the other half lives, in which I see too many gorgeous vintage clothes and houses to handle

* Due to having to spend a portion of the trip traveling to/from family, I decided not to even TRY to see if two of my favorite bloggers, La Belette Rouge and Une femme d’un certain age’s Deja Pseu, just MIGHT be available to meet during my vacation. I hope to rectify that another time!

The Gilded Lily gets a headshot

The Gilded Lily (“my dress of choice is so young that I look like a contrast of opposites…a grape and a prune”) CLAIMS it was only a coincidence that she was wearing her new feathered earrings—the ones she bought in a body-piercing parlor*—the day her company was redoing their internal headshots.

She also swears she wasn’t the first to think about using a fan “on set,” just the first to shed her self-consciousness:

Someone was talking about using a fan, but no one did. When they asked me if I wanted the fan I said YES!!!!

They said REALLY?

I said YES I am not joking I want the FAN!!!!!!!”

And what Ms Lily wants, Ms Lily gets. Though unfortunately she didn’t ask the photo team to paint the wall a more flattering color.

Obviously I can’t swear that Lily is the ONLY post-post menopausal woman who would pair below-the-shoulder feather earrings with a heavily encrusted top and a tailored blazer…

but around here she’s definitely in the minority.

And since I rarely remember to bring my camera along when we’re out and about, I’m both happy and highly amused that she has this moment immortalized—and that she let me share it! So if she’s a little more of a diva from now on, I guess I’ll learn to deal.


Especially since now I know just what to get her for her 70th.

* As I said in another post: She hasn’t mentioned if the feathers were her only purchase, and I haven’t asked.

This Not That

Despite growing up in a home that was full of present- and future-tense estrogen, discussion around clothing generally focused on cost and hmmmmm, cost. I certainly didn’t know there were guidelines about how to chose a shape or proportion to highlight—or downplay—one’s specific attributes.

It wasn’t until my past contained peach hotpants, high-waisted pants, ankle straps galore, leggings, thigh-length jackets AND boxy sweaters that I tuned into the buzz surrounding the various What Not to Wear franchises. Only then did I cotton to the fact that dressing for one’s body type is a subset of the style industry.


Naturally I ignored said industry until my intervention. At which point I ignored it some more. But eventually, 4 or so years ago, I started accumulating sometimes-contradictory advice books that focused heavily on fit and proportion issues.

And I felt so liberated! I could leave the milk bottle on the table—er shake the dust off my Ed Grimley past—and never look back.

But THEN I started reading style-related forums and blogs. Granted it’d been awhile since I read Ms magazine cover to cover, but I was quite surprised to discover that the concept of dressing for one’s body type is highly politicized. Apparently on the repressiveness scale, body-centric style advice falls somewhere between polygamy and infant ear-piercing.

[Except when a far-right conservative derides the notion of flattering formulas; then style recommendations are as much an affront to personal freedom as reproductive rights and national health care.]

Now that I’ve been enlightened, I feel a bit alone in hewing to various rules. I’m talking all the other chicks are having a blast in the sack, and I’m refusing to take off my chastity belt alone.

Especially when it comes to resisting current shoe trends.

However (and sadly for those as shallow as I), skin-toned shoes only elongate one’s legs and streamline one’s ankles but so much. As I’m not expecting a post-40 growth spurt that results in Bambified gams, booties/shooties and the eternal T-strap offerings are a no-go. Instead, I’ll do a little harm reduction with a pair of more staid, blends-with-my-superpale-skin pearlized Clarks…even if their vamp is a smidge too high to be ideal.

Because compare plus contrast tells the whole tear-inducing tale.

[Though I’ll admit there’s something very sculptural about the metallic shooties, okay? Bonus points for looking less mean than the still-popular gladiators.]

Now there’s no denying that rules evolve in a cultural context, and rules can certainly—happily—be broken as a cultural “screw you.” The Gilded Lily’s world isn’t right unless she’s wearing something that screams 16, not pushing-70. [Current love: feather earrings from a body-piercing parlor. She hasn’t mentioned if the feathers were her only purchase, and I haven’t asked.]

But if you’d prefer your legs to look a little meatier, your hips to appear more balanced, or your vertically-challenged neck to evoke a swan, liberation won’t get you very far. Trying to create illusions requires a lot of pragmatism.

Or as Kenny likes to say:

You got to know when to hold ’em / Know when to fold ’em*

Know when to walk away / Know when to run”

Those who chafe at stylistic constraints can and should go their own way. When you’re looking to beat the house, though, it’s wise to keep your heart from making calls your body can’t cash.

* If you want to know HOW to “know when to hold ’em/know when to fold ’em” when shoes are the topic, check out Imogen’s  leg-lengthening tricks at Inside Out Style.

Featured shoes: Clarks Indigo Soybean Thong Sandal; Kelsi Dagger Karina Bootie; Hive and Honey Saira T-Strap

Orange you lucky

For the last week, much of the PNW has seen fit to masquerade as hell. While I’m sure hell appreciates the homage and HVAC contractors welcome the dough re mi, 110 ain’t how my city should roll given its under- or non-airconditioned infrastructure.

Sure, 98% of the year it rains. But when thermostats spike, we end up with a geopolitical landscape that’s more Burning Man than Phoenix. And whatever the official numbers say, an extended-dance-play heat wave tends to leave our abodes, transportation devices, and organs feeling like we’ve reached:

I mean I’m scared to see if Julia Child has a recipe for cooked brains because I think I’m halfway through the prep.

Even my heat-loving friends are miserable. Including the one who traveled around the Sahara for FUN. Sure, the ones with central air still have a small hitch in their get-along. But The Gilded Lily tells me she’s sitting around with wet towels on her head, which shocks me. What’s next: tabloid shots of Mr Brains-and-Beauty Belafonte lounging in ratty underwear?

Speaking of hot: Activist-entertainer Belafonte

Speaking of hot: Activist-entertainer Belafonte

I hope not, because I’m too dehydrated to cry.

Anyway, instead of gadding about the city, showing off her new pierced ears and first-ever cell phone–part of her 69th birthday splashout–Lily is sweltering at home and has placed a ban on company. Which is why I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever see her new, pre-hot-flash outfit, an outfit that sounds rather extreme even for her:

Okay:  Neon orange knit jersey halter style dress with fringe….worn under a 60’s style flower organdy blouse…orange 3″ heel sandals….a huge ethnic scarf with deep wines, reds, greens, etc…..a wine colored ornate estate sale vintage necklace…..and now to top it all off the purse is red with silver sparkles!!!

Can you handle that???”

Can I handle that. Please. CAN I HANDLE THAT?

Well, maybe. The colors don’t scare me; after all, the combination looks gorgeous here:

From Flickrs great Pulp Fiction pool

But dang, to one who skews fairly minimalist that DOES sound like a lot of doodads and texture in one place at one time. I bet she’ll convert me when I see it come together with her personality, though. Lily’s a style brushfire, and she has a way of burning preconceptions to the ground.