Friday, August 29, 2014

My Grandmother's Pearls

Both the necklace and the mabe pearl earrings belonged to my Grandmother; She'd have loved the Isabella Fiore handbag  from Nordstrom, dotted with beads and sequins, and the blue and yellow striped and tasseled Poetic License shoes; The pants are Ann Taylor circa 1997; The jacket is Jones New York (see it styled another way here); The watch is Oakley (and you thought they only made sunglasess...)
My mom says I remind her of my Grandma Dorothy in many ways. Like me, she loved to entertain and always paid special attention to even the smallest details of a dinner party or holiday celebration; she had shoes and purses to match every dress; and she loved to get gussied up (usually for an evening at the Moose Lodge). We even shared similar taste in clothes - despite the generation gap, the brown leather jacket she wore in the 1940s is the most treasured item in my closet.  
Wasn't she beautiful?!
I was in college when she passed away, now more than 20 years ago, but I feel like she's with me all the time. It's no surprise, then, that I was thrilled last summer when my mom handed down some pieces of her jewelry, including this fun strand of "pearls" strung on rainbow hued thread. This piece was handmade by Grandma, probably sometime in the 70s. She had mad crafting skills - I would pay money for this necklace today! Of course, I love it even more because it was hers. No, they're not real pearls and, no, they're not worth a lot of money. But to me, they're priceless. 
My Grandma, Mom and Aunt Linda all used to hand make necklaces on rainbow hued thread.  I think they'd sell today if  I had the patience and know-how to make them.
Even so, the material possessions I have of hers are trivial compared to my childhood memories of quality time spent with her and my Grandpa Harold. When I sat down to write this post, I thought it would be clever to share some of Grandma's "pearls of wisdom" in addition to the pearls she wore. But the truth is, one of the things I admired most about Dorothy Coy was that she didn't spend a lot of time giving people unsolicited advice about what they should and shouldn't do, or how they should or shouldn't live their lives. Well, there was that one time when she told the grade-school me to stop eating mac & cheese before I made myself sick, but that's not the kind of advice I'm talking about here... though I can tell you she was certainly right about it - I should have listened.   
I wish I had a window into the world of young Dorothy.  This picture is one of my favorites of her.
For the most part, my grandmother let the way she treated others and the way she led her own life set the example for those around her. She was not a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of woman. She walked the walk. I'm happy I've inherited my sense of style and flair for entertaining from her; I'm thrilled to own and wear jewelry that once belonged to her; but I hope I grow up to share her wise ways, as well. 

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

My Grandma Dorothy also inspired these posts:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Moose out front shoulda told ya'

Today's post is about Wally World. No, not the theme park destination of the Griswold family odyssey, but that other Wally World - the big box store known for rolled back prices. You know, the one that has spawned an entire website devoted to showcasing pictures of its outrageously attired customers behaving badly.  

My mother in law often remarks that a trip to Wal-Mart sucks the life out of her. It's hard to disagree. It's usually crowded; lines are long; it's poorly merchandised; the lighting is harsh... Oddly, it also seems to rain every time I venture inside. I'm not kidding - every time I go to Wal-Mart (or at least every time I've been in the last year), I've had to run through the madhouse of a parking lot in the rain.  

Yet, I still go. I go because Wal-Mart always has Diet Coke for less than seven bucks a case when it's at least eight everywhere else absent a sale or coupon (this matters when you drink as much DC as I do). I go because the regular price of my favorite Kashi cereal is more than a dollar cheaper per box. I go because it's on my way home and open 24 hours. I go because the bakery sells fresh-baked individual bread loaves that are shaped like footballs, which make the perfect theme-appropriate meatball sandwiches for a Fall tailgate. I go.
Guess what else? I got this hat and scarf at Wal-Mart.  They were each less than eight bucks. The pants are Ann Taylor, the shoes are Tommy Hilfiger, the jacket is Jones New York, and the bag is Fossil, but the pieces that pull this look together and really make it click are straight up Wal-Mart.  

Usually, I'm proud of my bargain-shopping prowess, but when I sat down to write a blog post featuring this outfit, I was slightly embarrassed to admit where I got the key pieces. Not because they were inexpensive (which is great), but because of the social stigma associated with wearing clothes from Wal-Mart. If I'd found them at Target, Goodwill or a consignment shop, I'd have thought nothing of shouting to the world, "Look what I found!" 

I actually considered writing a different sort of post altogether, burying the origins of the hat and scarf in the photo caption. But, the more I dissected my discomfort, the more I felt like I needed to address it head on. I'm disappointed that I felt any wisp of shame about wearing clothing from Wal-Mart. They look great. I felt great. I'm excited to wear the whole ensemble again. So, it shouldn't matter where I got them.

I could pretend my discomfort was rooted in a belief that Wal-Mart treats its employees unfairly or that big box stores are a blight on otherwise genteel neighborhoods. The truth is, I am more affected by social stereotypes and the quality (or not) of consumer marketing than I want to admit. The perception of "people of Wal-Mart" makes it an undesirable place to shop (or to admit you shop) for anything beyond groceries, school supplies, and Halloween decorations.  

The same thing used to be true of Target. When I was a kid, my mom used to buy my tennis shoes and some of my clothes from Target in the Markland Mall. I hated going to Target. I was embarrassed to shop at Target and if I happened to run into anyone I knew from school, I'd pretend we were just getting school supplies or that I was just passing through on my way to Paul Harris or one of the "cool" stores in the mall.

But now, I love, love, love Target. I will make up an excuse to go to Target, only to browse the aisles and buy a hundred dollars worth of stuff I don't need. I am not alone in my adoration - there are countless memes and blog posts that bear witness to the marketing and merchandising genius behind Target's dramatic reputational 180. If Wal-Mart was merchandised and marketed as well as Target, I'd probably like shopping there, too.

It bothers me that at 41 years old, I can still feel the same sort of brand-consciousness I felt as a seventh grader. I'm not talking about brand-consciousness due to quality issues or innovative style. Clearly, we often get what we pay for, and Wal-Mart will never become a wardrobe building destination for me.  Where fit and finish are critical, I expect to pay more for quality fabrics, cut and construction that I know I won't find at a big box discount store. I also prefer small boutiques that carry unique designers to avoid mass-market styles and cookie-cutter looks.  But, when it comes to trendy accessories like a coral striped infinity scarf or a basic sunhat, why should I care?! I'm quite certain the quality is on par with anything from my beloved Target, and the construction of the hat is identical to that of a Nine West sunhat I bought at Macy's. Perhaps most importantly, I like them.  

So, I bought this hat and this scarf at Wal-Mart and I think they make the outfit. There. I said it.  

Why am I still hesitant to push the "publish" button...?    
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

If you like hats, check out Hat Attack!
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rent the Runway

 Dress (Temperley London, Rent the Runway); Hat (Loreta Corsetti Millinery); Shoes (Schutz,
There's no such thing as "overdressed" when attending a dinner party and film screening to benefit the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Fashion Arts Society. It was the perfect occasion to move beyond standard LBD cocktail fare and add dramatic flair befitting Auntie Mame, the title character of the evening's entertainment. Though the movie was released in 1958, I'd never seen it. It's a delightful film, and I have to admit I wasn't the least bit offended when my friend Madison remarked that Mame's penchant for matching her outfits head to toe, and even coordinating them with her party decor and interior design, reminded her of me...   

I used the event as an opportunity to try out "Rent the Runway," a New York city based company that stocks hundreds of high-end designer dresses that it rents for a mere fraction of the retail cost of the garments. I was skeptical when I first heard about it - the idea of renting a dress did NOT appeal to me. I've always had a "why rent when you can buy mentality." If a man is going to wear a tuxedo more than once a year, he should absolutely invest in a classic style tailored to fit him. He'll be money ahead after a few wearings, and it will have a more debonair, James Bond air than an off the rack rental.

That said, my position softened a bit when I spied the Temperley London "Aya" dress while checking out the Rent the Runway website. I first laid eyes on this heavily embroidered, sheer beauty while shopping in Chicago last Fall. I love the brand's design aesthetic, and the "Aya" collection is one of my favorites. Unfortunately, the straight from the Fall 2013 runway look also cost over two thousand dollars. I don't know about you, but I can't afford two thousand dollars for a dress, let alone one that I'd likely wear only once or twice. And even a 50% after-season clearance sale wasn't going to bring it into the realm of possibility for me.

I'd even scoured the internet to see if I could find it at an affordable price on eBay or through a consignment shop. No such luck, though Google did inform me that I wasn't alone in my appreciation of the Aya collection. It was sold out everywhere (there actually are people who pay that much), and it's been worn on the Red Carpet and featured in more than one popular television show.
Vanessa Hudgens wore the Aya dress on the red carpet for a Make a Wish Foundation event; Hayden Pannettiere wore the blouse version in Season 2, Episode 13 of television show "Nashville."
In the nineteenth episode of television series "Reign,"  a CW period drama about Mary, Queen of Scots that will start its second season this Fall, Mary (Adelaide Kane) wears the full-length, white/gold version of the Aya dress; In the sixteenth episode, she wears the black/gold version.

Renting a dress that I hadn't tried on and would arrive just two days before the event could have been a disaster, but since I knew there were back-up options in my closet, I took a chance. What a great experience! The dress arrived a day ahead of the promised delivery date. It was carefully packaged, clean, and wrinkle free. The company actually sends two different sizes, which adds insurance against the frustrating lack of sizing consistency in women's clothing. The return process was also a breeze - I simply tucked the dresses into a pre-addressed package and popped them in a UPS drop-box on my way to work the following Monday. 

The website also has an excellent client review database, which includes photos of actual customers wearing the garments. This is tremendously helpful in evaluating whether a particular style is likely to be flattering on "real world women." Let's face it, not many of us actually look like runway models, so seeing somebody of similar height and body type is invaluable when you can't try something on in advance.      
Given the theme of the evening, I amped up the drama with a fascinator from Chicago milliner Loreta Corsetti (purchased on a day trip with the Fashion Arts Society last year). Between it and the elaborate detail on the dress, I kept accessories to a minimum. Both my earrings and the black onyx ring are cherished heirlooms from my Grandma Dorothy. They were made in Spain, and the conquistador carved into the face of the onyx resembles the likeness of Don Quixote. This seemed particularly fitting for the affair, which was held in the magnificent 1930s home of internationally acclaimed interior designer Jamie Gibbs and Cuban chef Paco Argiz - the house is dubbed "Dulcinea," the name of Don Quixote's imagined true love, in honor of Paco's favorite author, Miguel de Cervantes. Like Auntie Mame, I dressed for both the occasion and the setting!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
With my beautiful, stylish friends Yolanda and Kristen in the library at Dulcinea
Linked up with: Hat Attack!
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Unexpected Pairing

Blouse (Dress Barn); Capris (Counterparts, Steinmart); Bag (Michael Kors, TJ Maxx)
I am one of those people who would prefer that my food not touch. Each component should be separate - no mixing! Mashed potatoes should sit beside homemade noodles, not underneath! I realize I'm in the minority here, especially as a born and bred Hoosier. I blame a certain grade school boy, who triple-dog dared me to breach the tidy little compartments of the school lunch tray and mix my canned peaches into my baked beans before I ate them. It.Was.Vile. To this day, I do not eat baked beans or canned peaches (though I will happily eat a fresh peach).
Watch (Kesaris, Steinmart); Belt (Ralph Lauren, Macy's)
The only exception to the no mixing rule was the delightful combination of Taco-flavored Doritos and cottage cheese, discovered on a camping trip with my grandparents some thirty summers ago. My Grandpa George couldn't have cared less about my mealtime quirks - it was "quit whining and clean your plate" with him. And so it was that I had to choke down those little orange triangles that had lost their crispness to the stray, wet curds that had crept out of their designated area on my Chinette. Lo and behold, and though I was loathe to admit it after the dramatic fit I had thrown, I actually liked the combination. Doritos dipped in cottage cheese soon became a staple of my visits with them. 
Sandals (Talbots)
Like Doritos and cottage cheese, this pink and bronzy gold combination was an unexpected but delicious pairing. I've had this silky pleated blouse for five years and I usually wear it with brown, black or navy. I've worn it so often, I was bored with it. But, inspiration struck as I was contemplating different ways to wear these pink canvas and cognac leather sandals from Talbots 2013 summer collection... et voila, a new way to combine clothes already in my wardrobe to create an entirely new flavor! If you're bored with what's in your closet, try mixing things up a bit before you hit the mall for something new. I triple-dog dare ya!
Pairing the same top with bright pink instead of predictable black brought it back to life for me.

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Monday, August 18, 2014

French Overhaul

If I told you I recently spent a leisurely morning shopping in a bustling little city on the coast of the French Riviera, what would you expect me to buy?  Perfume?  A fancy dress? Probably a great pair of shoes?  Overalls?  

Wait...what?  I certainly didn't see that coming.  In a sea of beautiful French lace dresses and peasant tops, I found myself inexplicably drawn to a pair of plain cotton "bib overhalls," as some of the old-time farmers in my family might call them, though they'd shake their heads in dismay at the impracticality of the snow white color.  It was an impulse buy and quite a departure from my typical style, so I wondered if I'd have buyer's remorse when our fairy-tale European vacation was over.  But I have to say, I liked them even more "back home again in Indiana." 
This carousel at one end of the boardwalk shopping district in the Cote d'azur city of Bandol, France delights the imagination and adds even more whimsy to the fairy-tale setting of the area.  It's one of my favorite images from our trip.
Of course, given my proclivity for clumsy, I'm not sure how long the soft white cotton will retain its pristine glow...thank goodness I wasn't wearing them last week when I dropped a two liter bottle of Coke on the grocery store floor.  The resulting pressurized "explosion" covered me and every shopper in a 20 foot radius with sticky sweet goodness.  Coke's current campaign may be all about sharing with your Mom, Dad and BFF, but my fellow shoppers did not appreciate my generosity.  The jury is still out on whether the black and white striped palazzo pants I was wearing that day will survive the caramel colored onslaught...
Blue suede shoes (RSVP,; Top (Chadwick's of Boston); Bracelet (Erwin Pearl's Van Gogh collection); Blue Topaz ring (Ross-Simons)
Perhaps not surprisingly, this recent episode was not my first sloppy soda incident.  The tall, slender 20 oz glass bottles of Coke Light served at a boardwalk cafe in the same little French Riviera town where I bought the overalls reminded me that the inch long white scar on the inside of my right knee came from dropping a similar bottle on a concrete porch when I was a child.  That particular occasion required a trip to the emergency room and several stitches.  At least my most recent Coca-Cola calamity involved plastic rather than glass!
Even an ordinary bottle of soda looked beautiful to me in the afternoon sunlight of a French Riviera cafe.  I could have sat there watching the patrons and passers by for hours.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Error Travel

A maxi-dress is usually an excellent choice for air travel - this one, not so much - find out why below...  Dress (INC, Macy's); Hat (9 West, Macy's); Switchflops) (Incidentially, it's not your screen that's dusty - this picture has a ridiculous amount of "orbs" in it - either my lens was filthy or the air was full of dust motes...)
I consider myself to be a pretty savvy traveler. I'm fortunate to have visited a lot of places, both domestic and internationally, and I've learned quite a few first-hand "lessons" along the way, particularly with respect to air travel.  For example, if your carry-on luggage contains a Walker, Texas Ranger toy gun and badge that you bought for your little brother while visiting a friend in Houston, armed airport security will come running when your bag is x-rayed. 

Likewise, if you get married and change your name between the issuance of your passport and the issuance of your airline ticket to another country, you may be detained upon arrival, interrogated at length, and required to have someone back home fax a copy of your marriage license to the airport.  In a similar vein, if you visit the US embassy while in said foreign country to have the name on your passport officially changed, you should not let a brand new employee mark out your maiden name with an ink pen.  That is not the correct process, and having a big blue ink mark through your last name will cause further scrutiny and delays any time you use your passport thereafter.
I've also learned that if you are traveling alone and need to use mass public transportation to take you from the airport to your accommodations, you should not be hauling more bags than you can comfortably maneuver without assistance. Even if you're going to be working from your destination for 3 months, you will regret the choice to bring 13 pairs of shoes, 5 purses, and 4 jackets of similar weight when you are pushing, pulling and dragging multiple bags to the train station, where busy commuters will snicker behind your back as you struggle to load all of them before the rigidly scheduled train leaves the station.  

It was the latter experience that drove home, for me, the importance of packing light.  It also drove home the importance of a rolling suitcase (or cases), preferably the kind with four wheels that move in any direction (which you can push in front of or alongside you and easily balance smaller bags on top, while the two wheeled versions must be pulled behind you).  That hunter green duffel bag set with cognac saddle leather trim that I received as a college graduation gift may have matched my Jeep Wrangler and looked incredibly rugged and cool, but lugging it around was no picnic.  Four-wheeled luggage changed my travel life.

Learning to pack light has also made the process of air travel much more pleasant (not to mention saved me a lot of money now that airlines charge for every piece of checked baggage).  Of course, packing light means you may have to limit your wardrobe options more than you otherwise would, and put a bit more effort into mix and match ensembles.  However, on a trip to San Diego a few years ago, I also discovered Switchflops.  For warm-weather holiday travel, Switchflops are the greatest thing since sliced bread (or at least since the invention of the four-wheeled rolling suitcase).  These ingenious shoes with interchangeable straps let you create a multitude of looks to match every outfit, but only take up the space of a single pair (or two, if you're like me and buy both a black and a neutral base pair). On our recent holiday in France, I wore a different pair of shoes every day, but they took up almost no space in my luggage!  Et voila!

But, for all my travel cockiness, I'm still learning.  For my recent 9 hour international flight to Europe, I decided to wear a maxi-dress.  It's as comfortable as my pjs but doesn't look sloppy; never wrinkles; and would take up very little room in my suitcase on the return trip.  I paired it with my Switchflops, which are easy to slip on and off when going through airport security.  And, to keep it from taking up space and being crushed in my suitcase, I wore the wide-brimmed sun hat that I knew I'd need for the South of France (you can also save space in your bag and protect your hats from getting crushed by stuffing them with your pajamas or t-shirts that you are taking anyway, and which either don't wrinkle or you won't mind if they do). A large, neutral beach bag doubled as my purse, so it was roomy enough to store my iPad, a lightweight fleece blanket (because planes are always cold), my passport, etc.  The perfect travel ensemble...with one major flaw.  I failed to recognize that the small, silver metal studs scattered throughout the pattern on the dress would set off the metal detector at airport security!  What's more, I learned that a Fitbit will also set off the metal detector.  Both of these were minor issues, but they nevertheless caused delay and hassle in my usually effortless glide through the airport to the nearest Auntie Anne's pretzel stand.  More lessons learned!
Nearly 24 hours after my journey began, airport security issues are all but forgotten as we enjoyed gelato at midnight on the shore of Lake Como, Italy, and the dress remained remarkably unwrinkled despite the extensive pat down I received from Swiss security when leaving the Zurich airport.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
I've also blogged about air travel issues in these posts:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Traveling Pink Sweater Goes to the Fair

The first six women to join the Sisterhood include, clockwise from top left:  Madison Hanulak (photo courtesy of Studio 505); Leslie Bailey (photo courtesy of Michelle Pemberton, Indianapolis Star); Crystal Hammon; Jody DeFord; Megan Giannini; Maggie Connor.  You can read more about their experiences with the Sweater here.
Oh, the places it's been.  And, oh, the stories it's heard!  If you've been following Red's Shoe Diaries, I hope you'll remember the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pink Sweater. When we started this initiative last October, my friend and fellow blogger Crystal Hammon and I had one goal:  to raise awareness and money for the critical breast cancer support services provided by The Pink Ribbon Connection while at the same time highlighting vintage fashion and its relevance in today’s world.  If you're new to the blog or this is the first time you've seen this vintage 1960s gem, check out my original post. This cutie of a  cardigan has a fascinating history!  It also travels in style from woman to woman in its own vintage pink suitcase.

Since my last update, the Sisterhood has nearly doubled in size.  While I know four of these women personally, I've yet to meet the others.  When we developed the project, Crystal and I made a deliberate choice to let the journey grow organically, allowing each new Sweater Sister to select the next recipient - a choose your own adventure, if you will - so that the sweater's story would reach beyond our own spheres of influence.  

I actually hoped the Barbie pink cardie would travel somewhat faster than it has.  But, the truth is, we're all busy, and sometimes things just take a bit longer than anticipated.  Regardless, every woman that has joined the journey has made a point to share it with her friends, family, and the world at large through social media.  It's so interesting to follow the sweater's path as it makes new "pink ribbon connections" around the State and beyond.  Allow me to introduce you to latest women to join to the Sisterhood!

I think you'll agree that little Lulu, shown below sporting the sweater last week at the Indiana State Fair, is a future fashionista in training.  Check out those matching pink cowgirl boots - I wonder if they make them in my size!  Lulu's mom, Katy, shares what inspired this Hoosier adventure at Indy With Kids.  Don't miss her story about the impact of her grandmother's battle with breast cancer on their relationship, and the lasting impact it's had on her life.
sisterhood of the traveling pink sweater indy with kids
Lulu is both runway ready and midway ready as she models the Pink Sweater at the Indiana State Fair
Katy shared the sweater with Tracy, who shares her experience At Home with Sweet T.  As you can tell from her outtake photos, she's got personality plus, and I'm looking forward to meeting her in person when the Sisterhood gathers in celebration at the end of the journey!  Find out what inspired her to pair pink and pearls with powertools here.
Tracy had fun posing in pink and pearls with power tools!
Heather donned the sweater in support of her cousin, Lori.  The outpouring of support Lori has received from family and friends, and even her son's Little League Team, will put a smile on your face.  You can read about it at Just Heather.
Heather proudly sports her "Team Lori" bracelet as she prepares to hand the Pink Sweater off to its next recipient.
Crystal joined the Sisterhood in memory of her friend, Vanessa.  Just as Vanessa was there for Crystal when she was baptized into the body of Christ, so Crystal was there for Vanessa as she returned to the Lord after a lengthy battle with the disease.  You can read her tribute at Mom For Less.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pink Sweater
Crystal wears the Pink Sweater in celebration of the life of her friend, Vanessa.
Last, but certainly not least, is KimAnn, a regular blogger at the Huffington Post and a true fashionista who appreciates the durability and enduring style of quality vintage garments.  In her post, KimAnn recounts the fascinating story her Aunt, who survived not only breast cancer but also political exile after her father was executed in a Kharkov prison.  After reading about her experiences and her continued appreciation for life's little joys, I'd love to sit down with this 87 year old spitfire over coffeecake!  
The Pink Sweater casts a rosy glow over a historic portrait of KimAnn's Aunt and her family.
Stay tuned as the Traveling Pink Sweater continues its adventure!  I hope you find the journey both interesting and inspiring.  If you'd like to support the Sweater's mission, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to the Pink Ribbon Connection here.

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Language Lessons

Striped top with lace neckline (Kohl's); Capris (Worthington, JC Penney); Braided leather belt (Lauren Ralph Lauren, Macy's); Golf shoes (Aerogreen, Lori's Golf Shoppe)
Quick, if I asked you to name the "international language," how would you answer?  If you're a self-centered American, maybe you'd say "English."  If you're a romantic, or a fan of the 80s cult movie classic "Better Off Dead," maybe you'd say "love."  ("You don't need words to speak the international language.  Riiiight, Ricky?")  While there may be truth in the "international language of love" referred to in my favorite 80s comedy, I learned on vacation last week that the game of golf also has a universal language.  
I wanted to pack light for the trip, so my golf clothes had to do double duty off the course - I love the very "French" feel of this Breton-striped top with embroidered lace neckline; The Aerogreen golf shoes are designed and made in Italy from hand-finished woven leather - I'd wear them to the office if I thought I could get away with it.
Quotes from Better Off Dead ran through my mind at random during our trip to France, where we enjoyed a few rounds of golf and a lot of "Fronch bread" (they just call it bread...well, the French word for bread),  but didn't partake of any "Fronch dressing" or "Fronch fries," and I certainly didn't drink any "Peru."  If you don't get the reference, see the movie!  It's terrible and awesome at the same time - one of the few films that I will always watch if I come across it while flipping channels.  So, so funny.
Confession - my shirt is untucked because I ate too many freshly baked, warm chocolate croissants at our pre-round breakfast!  Good thing my braided belt was adjustable...
Our exquisite holiday included a stay at a Club Med in Vittel, France, a favorite vacation spot of our German hosts.  We were the only Americans at the resort, where almost no one spoke English.  But, as we played both of the championship courses on site, it quickly became clear that the game transcends traditional language barriers.  In particular, the sounds of celebration and consternation that follow shots swell or shanked are the same in any language.  Likewise, and to my surprise, the term "fore" is common to the game in any geography (not that I had to use it....)  I also learned some new German words on the course that I'm fairly certain are NOT in the German dictionary or part of any Rosetta Stone program.
Clockwise, from top left: I look tiny in comparison to the enormous, castle-like resort hotel and clubhouse that sits just beyond the 18th hole; Beyond the green you can see a bit of the horsetrack and steeplechase course that share the same grounds; The lounge chairs that face the 18th green remind me of the resort in Dirty Dancing; Panoramic views were abundant, each hole prettier than the one before; With our golfing companions/language teachers. 
The one aspect of the experience that defies adequate description in any language was the beauty of the courses themselves.  I've played a lot of different places, but never any as picturesque as those in Vittel.  I hope one day I'll have an opportunity to go back, and I'll be forever grateful to our friends for such an unforgettable and unique experience. 
Kdef ran like a madman behind me as I took this iPhone panoramic shot, so he shows up on both sides of the same picture!; I'd like to think I'd have played better if I could have read the course "tip guide," which was written only in French, but that's probably just wishful thinking on my part.  No matter, every lost ball was just a chance to explore more of the beautiful scenery.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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