I am not in France. I am at home and it is hot (although to be fair I think it is hot everywhere.) Something is going on and every bug in Atlanta has heard how awesome my house is. There are sugar ants in the kitchen, mosquitos everywhere, and twice on my walks with the dogs, an enormous cicada has dropped down right in front of me. Have you ever seen one of those up close? They are kind of prehistoric-looking and 2 inches long. They sound awesome chirping at night… but getting a good look at them has ruined them for me. The girls and I came home from disability camp with 20 chigger bites — the result of my poor choice of free time activity, taking an afternoon run around the lake — that multiplied overnight to about 100 welts. I thought I was going to scratch my skin off. On top of all the bugs, I am not in France. But Lizzie is. And I am dreaming of Lizzie in France.
Lizzie is amazing. She has worked with us for years doing all things merchandising-related. She has the very best taste (by which I guess I mean that she loves what I love… but she shows me things to love that I would not have found on my own.) She surprises me with coolER stuff from the expected places and the coolEST stuff from the unexpected places. And lots of that cool finds its way to you. Anyway, I cannot tell you how grateful I am that she works with us. But on top of her taste, the thing that really kills me about Lizzie is her beautiful family. I think a little too much about them, maybe. Before I moved, they lived on the same street, so every single night I would drive past her house and think enviously about those 3 adorable girls inside. I think part of my problem is how much I loved that time of my life. The years where I had so many gangly girls and all conversation was speckled with one funny observation after another. That time is largely undocumented because it was pre-iPhone, but also because I was so busy trying to keep up with it all that I almost never wrote any of it down. I would pay a fortune to remember just a fraction of all the silly things that came out of their mouths. And while I didn’t record much of my own, I do have these sensational little diaries that my youngest, Pauline, kept for herself. Diary may not be quite right – more of a set of strong missives spread across dozens of those tiny spiral notebooks you get in the dollar section of Target with photographs of kittens on the front. She would furiously write down which sister she HATTED that day, over and over and over. (Even the spelling was charming.) It was tiring and hectic and there was never a moment to really rest. But I just loved it.
And so that is what came to mind every night when I’d drive home and wistfully pass Lizzie’s house. Thank God I moved – it was such a visceral, physical reaction that I almost couldn’t take it. My heart would hurt. I could just imagine all the dresses hanging in the closets and the tiny slip-on tennis shoes by the back door. Every piece of cuteness curated. In my mind, even the dog biscuits were cute. Maybe ‘sweet’ is a better adjective. Scruffy and sweet and real. I don’t even know her girls all that well, but they got all mixed up in my head with my own, at least when I would pass their house. Deep exhale.
And this week, they are ALL. IN. FRANCE. As if I weren’t envious enough. I am dreaming of them driving past lavender fields and walking through markets and buying radishes and baguettes and fresh butter and returning to their rented house and preparing meals en famille. In Provence. Heaven.
So with Lizzie’s girls in my head and all things French on my mind… when summer is halfway over but it is too hot to think about fall clothes just yet… I am writing about a little group of pieces made with an especially wonderful silk/linen that reminds me so much of the kind of special, old pieces you might find at a French flea market. Ivory sleeping chemises with bib fronts and tiny collars, nightgowns with picot-edge trim. A few days ago, before Lizzie left, I asked her opinion. “Am I crazy, or does this little lineny capsule remind you exactly of a better version of those wonderful linen vintage pieces you will find when you go to France next week?” “Exactly!” And she elaborated. “I think the blend and weave makes you feel light and airy but heavy enough to take you to fall – not a sheer, wrinkly linen. And the silk gives it such a nice drape so feels good and flattering on your body. Colors are seasonless!”
Both of us agreed that these pieces were actually better. For one, they actually fit. In theory, a decades-old man’s sleep shirt from France is incredibly chic, but pulling it off, as a woman, is not as easy as you’d think. For me, the solution is the Indira Tunic. Parisian gentleman without the gentleman. Full sleeve with a big tuxedo bib detail in the front. The real thing might have a yellowed spot from an attempt to bleach a red wine stain. If you are not so into the sleeping shirt, there is a wonderful peasant-style top with a drawstring neckline. And there are even a few pieces with that super-French-feeling picot edge: a softly gathered style with elastic to wear on or off the shoulder, and a similar dress version that you could throw on almost every day.
The final piece in this little capsule is a tried-and-true dress shape for us for ages. I would say it is the most ‘modern’ piece from the group… if the others are from the market at Clignancourt, this one goes to the Pompidou. The neutral colors will look amazing with a tan, and, as Lizzie and I agreed, will carry over well into fall. Even if your head doesn’t go to France – clearly many of my feelings are a little over the top — these pieces are fantastically useful and easy to wear. You really may need one or two of them. I love them, and Lizzie does, too.