CE&C Renovation Experiment Two: Scarves I – Grandmother’s Wisdom

“…it is necessary to give a good deal of thought to accessories and never buy anything on an impulse that does not fit into your well established program. The saying “I can not afford to buy cheaply,” was never so true. Although I am far from rich I bought my handbags from Hermes, Germain Guerin and Roberta. And without exception I have ended up by giving away all the cheap little novelty bags that I found irresistible at first. The same is true of shoes and gloves. I realize that this may seem austere and even very expensive but these efforts are one of the keys, one of the Open Sesames that unlock the door to elegance.”

  • Genevieve Antoine Dariaux

My maternal Grandmother, who was always chic and elegant, instilled in me that a basic adult wardrobe (today it would be called a capsule wardrobe) consisted of the following:

  • three high quality suits (skit, pants, blazer) in navy, black and beige;
  • three high quality cashmere cardigan sweaters in navy, black and beige;
  • silk blouses in cream;
  • a little black dress (LBD);
  • sensible high quality shoes in navy, black, cream and brown;
  • a number of great necklaces (including a pearl necklace);
  • high quality purses in navy, black and beige;
  • a pair of oversized Sophia Loren style sunglasses; and,
  • a large number of Hermes silk scarfs (to frame you in an artist’s pallet of colours).

With a few tweaks I think this advice is still valid today. My beloved Grandmother always emphasized the importance of the targeted use of accessories; however, she repeatedly stressed that it was important to wear only one at a time, any more was déclassé (although the flashy diamond wedding-engagement ring set did not count). Growing up in the 1960s and 70s I use to think that my Grandmother’s love of Hermes silk twill scarves (I think she may have had the odd Dior, Gucci and Vera scarf as well) was an old fashioned ode to glamor typified by the fashion icons of the day – Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy-Onassis.

I vividly remember as a child draping her scarves on my dolls (and sometimes stacks of hair curlers that would be stand in for dolls). Unlike many women, my Grandmother’s attitude about things, including her scarves, were that they were to be used – no matter how, otherwise they were not worth having. I think this very hands-on exposure at a young age instilled in me the knowledge of quality in scarves.

When my Grandmother died, my Grandfather had the maid take all her clothing away. So none of her daughters or granddaughters were able to have a silk twill memento.

To this day I can’t see a fabulous scarf without thinking of her.

In loving memory of my Grandmother I have chosen to dedicate a few blog entries to her love of accessories.

[Next post in this Experiment: Scarves II – Scarf Basics]


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