Jan’s Notebook


Vogue cover from the 1950's
I have long been influenced by fashion---or should I say STYLE? My mother subscribed to VOGUE, HOUSE BEAUTIFUL and HOUSE AND GARDEN when I was growing up. I never liked the teen magazines---I was only interested in what I could wear when I grew up! I was also obsessed with movie magazines that were months out of date when they were published---PHOTOPLAY and MODERN SCREEN were everywhere. They were written by p.r. people rather than reporters, but you could see what movie stars were wearing and sometimes see their houses.

MARGARET ANNE (my mother) taught me about great fabrics and textiles---she was a perfectionist and to this day I will not buy something whether in clothes or for upholstery that does not have “a good hand.” Fabrics with a good hand are lovely to wear and to sit on. Nor would she buy anything that didn’t have bound buttonholes. This is something that has almost disappeared other that at the haute couture level.
I grew up being aware of these things, both in FASHION and INTERIORS. My mother had great style, but I wanted my own. She wore navy a lot, so I refused to do that (I certainly wear it now)! My father, NELLINS, also had a great, relaxed style all his own. It came naturally to him.
Jan, Margaret Anne & Nellins 1963
Anything GRACE CODDINGTON styles is always an inspiration to me---I am still influenced by fashion magazines to this day.
Styled by Grace Coddington for Vogue
Just as in interior design, I dislike TRENDS. There are exceptions---for example, I think going green is great and much more than a trend. For instance, I love stripes, but not horizontal ones for clothes unless they are small. I am a big fan of Miuccia Prada, but I think her wide stripes for this spring can only be worn by someone who is 5’10” or taller and probably a runway model. If you must latch on to this trend, buy one of the bags with stripes----they won’t look dated.
Prada Fall 2011
Prada Fall 2011
On the other hand, THE ROW continues to design and produce classic yet edgy clothes that are made of wonderful fabrics and the fit is perfect.
The Row Fall 2011
The Row Fall 2011
I started wearing their clothes a couple of years ago---I always feel great in them. The same goes for the rooms we design. I need to feel good when I sit in one of them because I know if I FEEL good, I LOOK good. This is something I always recommend to my clients. You would be surprised at how astonished some of them are when I mention this. They think about colors that compliment them when it comes to CLOTHES, but not their HOUSES. Here is a room that feels that way to me…..
My living room in Dallas townhouse
I was just asked who my STYLE ICONS are for an upcoming piece in a magazine. These are the ones I listed going back to my youth:
MARGARET ANNE SMITH---She was always appropriate and looked perfect at all times. She loved Chanel and wore her Chanel suits from the 50’s and 60’s for years. They always looked right and never dated.
Margaret Anne
CAROLE LOMBARD—have only seen her in old movies, but she had great style and humor. There can be no style without humor. This photo of her from a wonderful book called The Power of Glamour stopped me in my tracks.
Carole Lombard
GRACE KELLY in the 50’s---Not only was she impossibly beautiful, but the clothes she wore were classic. The costumes in Rear Window, To Catch a Thief and High Society---all by the late, great Edith Head---are some of the most memorable in film.
Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief
CARY GRANT---my all time favorite style icon---he had the most amazingly simple wardrobe in both movies and in his personal life. He was always perfection and moved with such grace and ease. He was endlessly charming!
Cary Grant in Nice filming To Catch a Thief
BABE PALEY---Not only was she a great beauty, but there was something ethereal and incredibly chic about her. She had great personal style and wonderful taste when it came to decorating/designing her houses. She never had to make the grand statement, rather understatement---always the best statement of all.
Babe Paley at Round Hill, Jamaica by Slim Aarons
JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS---I admired her as First Lady, but she truly came into her own style in the ‘70’s. She was almost everyone’s style icon of that period.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis c. 1970
FAYE DUNAWAY---I know….this one will probably surprise you, but if you rent Network or the original Thomas Crown Affair, I think you will see what I’m talking about.
Faye Dunaway
CHARLOTTE RAMPLING---she is a Brit I admire for both her style and her acting. She has a specific look on screen that isn’t like anyone else.
Charlotte Rampling c. 1970
GWENYETH PALTROW---she does not use a stylist as most celebrities do today, so we are seeing her personal style.
Gwenyth Paltrow
MICHAEL KORS---Talk about classic---not only does he dress in his own simple style---no tie, usually t-shirt and khakis maybe with a sport coat, but he just gets classic style for women, and, he has the best sense of humor. His take on almost any subject is right on and hilarious.
Michael Kors
KATE MOSS---I am eager to get the new fashion book about her. Her style is so effortless---she is the one everyone talks about after a big event. I’ve never seen her when I didn’t love what she was wearing. She starts trends without ever being trendy.
Kate Moss
There have been many, many style icons for me throughout my life---people you might not know so they are not named here. They always have four qualities:
1. They dress and behave APPROPRIATELY for all occasions.
2. They move through this world with GRACE and EASE.
3. No one is quite like them EVER!
4. Their style is truly EFFORTLESS---never overdone or over thought.
When tempted by trends, remember these style icons----they may start a trend, but they never follow them. I like this rule for both fashion and interiors---will it stand the TEST OF TIME, or will you look back in 5 to 10 years and be appalled at what you wore or designed?
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