Archive for the ‘Etiquette & Manner’ Category

Elizabeth Taylor: I’m Not Like Anyone. I’m Me.


In the 1950’s, Elizabeth Taylor was part of the new type of Hollywood actor, the female parallel of Paul Newman, James Dean and others, who in Suddenly Last Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Butterfield 8, gave us a screen full of vulnerability and grit and beauty all at once. And never was she shy or coy about stating what she wanted.

Among her talents was the ability to present her figure at its most lusciously female while keeping the audience fixed on what she was saying, whether she was crossing the room fully clothed to light a cigarette or simply walking down the street. If you’re not convinced, watch her move about in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or, better, Butterfield 8. She was cute as hell in Giant, and displayed a much softer side in A Place in the Sun, especially in her scenes with Montgomery Clift.

From Butterfield 8:

Laurence Harvey: “You’re all alike, aren’t you? Play tough.
Elizabeth Taylor: I’m not like anyone. I’m me.”

Indeed. RIP.

Your Creamy And Fragrant Hand Doth Please, Milady

A way to keep a bit of you positively lingering long after you’ve passed through the room in your rustling silk skirts or tails is this: Rub a perfumed or cologned lotion onto the backs of your hands, wrists and arms before leaving for your next gathering or soiree.

The fragrance will waft about you subtly with your normal movements, such as shaking hands, lifting your glass or waving. And here’s the really practical part: Those unopened bottles of scented lotion and cream that come with your perfume or cologne, usually around Christmas time, and are huddled in your cabinet –the ones that you do not typically use on your body and never on your face? Now they have a purpose in life.

Make sure the scent matches, or is an agreeable mix with, your perfume or cologne, and that it gives you the vibe and mood you desire since you’ll be the primary recipient of it all night. And keep the lotion off your palms to avoid directly transferring the scent to the nice guy who will then walk around for the rest of the night wondering why the hell he smells like Honeysuckle Rose Nights. Or doom the nice gal you’ve just met to an evening, aromatically at least, of Blue Seduction by Antonio Banderas.

Cool Male Move: When to Stand, When to Sit

If you are male and at a dinner party, be a class act and follow this traditional point of etiquette: Remain standing in the dining area until the hostess takes her seat. While standing, if the woman or girl who will be seated to your right happens to comes to the table, you are correct in pulling out her chair and helping to seat her.

Unlike the men, women do no need to wait for the hostess to sit. But both sexes wait for the hostess to take her napkin and fold it in her lap before they do.

By the way, since not all men are familiar with this point of etiquette, don’t be surprised if you are one of the few, or the only one, standing. And don’t feel self conscious in the least about doing so.

Save The Date: Event Etiquette at Designs for Dining

Ten-Foot Tall Gold Servers Will Always Make For A Memorable Event

Here Ye, Here Ye, Southern California: This Saturday at 2 pm in beautiful Palos Verdes I will be giving a talk on dinner party protocol, along with some history and rationale related to its various rituals. This, along with ways to socially architect your most successful gathering ever.

I appear after Greg Simon from Pottery Barn, who will be discussing Easter Dining & Entertaining at 12:30 pm, and before Michael George who, at 2:30 pm will be informing on Fanciful Napkin Designs.

We are part of this year’s Designs for Dining, an annual benefit for the St. Francis Scholarship Program that features speakers, exhibits and displays related to entertaining & table designs. Tickets to the event are $30 at the door/ $25 in advance.

Discover more details here. Link:

How To Keep Your Love Life From The Neighbors

Unless you sleep here, you will need to figure out how to keep your amorous activities from seeping into the eardrums of your neighbors

As space seems to become more rare, we as people are becoming more scrunched together, particularly in cities but more and more in suburbs and communities. I spoke with writer Kelly Kreth from NYC apartment site BrickUnderground on an oft-overlooked point of neighbor-to-neighbor etiquette: keeping your modesty, privacy and the psychological well-being of your neighbors intact when engaging in amorous activity. According to their survey conducted in 2010, two-thirds of those they sampled said they had heard a neighbor engaging in such activity.

Here are some of my tips to help keep your private business entre vous, particularly in today’s increasingly close quarters:

  • Realize that bathrooms, with their pretty tubs and showers, can be a whole lot of fun and are typically more insulated than bedrooms.
  • There is a lot of sexiness to be found in soft speaking and whispering.
  • Bed check: None of us would like to live on the floor beneath the shaky, syncopated bed of a cavorting couple. Don’t be that couple. Make sure your bed frame is secure and does not budge when being trounced or bounced upon. Take the mattress off the frame if you must.

Read more, along with the input of others, in the short and informative piece, “How to be a Quiet Sexy Neighbor” at BrickUnderground here.

Practical Valentine’s

“The final aim of all love intrigues, be they comic or tragic, is really of more importance than all other ends in human life. What it all turns upon is nothing less than the composition of the next generation.”

–Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, 1819

On this day of celebrating love and fertility, a toast to your ancestors who, if it had not been for their long line of success in one or both of these areas, would have not been your ancestors. And to continue your success in these areas, bow to the day’s pull of love–the romantic, ethos, eros or any other of its fine varieties–with a look back through your personal Valentine’s Day catalogue to tease out your best, most authentic mates and moments: those things that moved you, made you feel the most romance, the greatest connection, the most alive.

Chances are, those February 14th gifts, words or gestures that made you feel skippy and warm in your fourth-grade homeroom have much in common with those that still do it today.

The Evolving Face of Fashion

I spoke with smart generational trend-watchers DemoDirt on how economic and social factors are forcing a fashion-industry focus on mature consumers–and the models they love.

Current Fashion Celebrates Boomers and Beyond. From Oprah’s recent supermodel summit featuring Boomer beauties  Cheryl Tiegs, Beverly Johnson, Christie Brinkley, and others to mod icon Veruschka’s turn on the runway at London Fashion Week, it seems as if the fashion industry is broadening its age range…Read the full article here

The Year of the Rabbit, Or A New Year Redo For You

Today is the Chinese New Year, the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam are also celebrating the New Year, though in Vietnam ’tis the Year of the Cat. A major holiday for many of our fellow Earthlings, what does this day mean for you? A second chance.

If you have punted some or all of that fresh resolution roster you were so earnest about on January 1, then take advantage of this chance for a redo. This time, though, scale back some of those bigger aspirations you laid out for yourself. Instead, add some fun, not-so-Herculean spots.

● Instead of working out 5 times a week…set out to walk/jog for 3 and throw some crunches in on the side

● Instead of implementing a totally new personal style…start collecting images (mentally or from magazines) of those styles that catch your eye and tuck them in a folder to review every once in a while, thinking about the little ways you can bring the big themes (more elegant, more grown up, more masculine, more fun, you name it) to your everyday look

● Instead of hitting the nail salon each week without fail…go when you can and in between visits, make sure you self groom your nails nicely. Read this post on shortcuts to presentable hands, or read the chapter on at-home nail care in Practical Glamour

● Instead of upgrading your entire wardrobe…make sure you just throw out at least 10 items that you don’t really like or use–and refuse to bring home anything else that is not of boss quality

● Instead of getting a pro facial at a salon once a month…go when you can and twice a month deep-clean and condition your complexion at home. Chapter 1 of Practical Glamour has a step by step at-home facial.

● Instead of becoming fluent in another language…set out to fluently deliver 5 of the top-used phrases you’d need (“My name is…” “I am from…” “I work as a …” and so forth)

You get the idea. Happy New-New Year. Go forth and be glamorous!

Handling The End-Of-The-Year Gratuity

‘Tis the season of the holiday tip. I spoke with the Murrysville Star about guidelines for end-of-the-year gratuity giving to your favorite facialist, delivery person, doorman, personal trainer and so forth, including the usefulness of cash, giving compliments instead of a tip (a big Don’t) and how to avoid naked money.

Read the article here.

Rules Of The Regift

I spoke about the “Etiquette of Regifting” on Clear Channel’s NewsTalk 1530 KFBK last week. Some notes:

Don’t give a regift to those who are close. Reason: “It’s the thought that counts.” Literally. Special occasion gifts from intimates–boyfriend, wife, longtime friends and close family members and so forth–come with the expectation that a) you are deeply familiar with their likes, dislikes, habits, desires, and b) your gift will reflect this intimacy.

A regift says simply: “Hi. I know you really well, but don’t really care.” In this case, no gift is better than a regift.

Do regift, but only if… You can regift those who are not close, such as a coworker, neighbor or other acquaintance provided the regift meets the following two conditions:

  • It must be something the receiver a) can use, and b) will enjoy. Otherwise you’re just pawning off your unwanted stuff, which is neither elegant nor jolly. No dusty bottle of Tequila to the guy who hasn’t touched a drop since the mid-80’s, framed Thomas Kinkade print to the thoughtful art collector, or chocolate truffles to the gal who’s wrestling with weight reduction.
  • You must eradicate any signs of a regift. This means no Scotch tape stuck to the box along with tiny remnants of the original giver’s plaid paper. No faded graphics on the box, frayed openings or worn-away edges. Again, here no gift is better than a regift.

If your regift meets these conditions, but the receiver still suspects that something is amiss with your gift, don’t fudge or be coy. Tell them the truth, along with the reason(s) why you thought they, in particular, would like the item.

A final word on regifting: If in doubt, don’t do it.

Easy Reader: Your Presentation As A Package Deal

Bondo Wyszpolski & I discuss the underused but potent power of presentation in LA’s Easy Reader, along with

  • clever ways to enhance your presentation
  • the idea of cultivating your “inner flame”
  • the importance of training your eye to spot plum-quality garments
  • and more.

“We have only one chance to make a good impression. Failing that, it can be a steep climb back, and by then the opportunity for a second try may have passed…” Read the full article here.

Horseback Riding For Your Figure & Mind


Photo: Peter Rains

If you’ve never ridden a horse, I recommend you take one private lesson with an even-tempered trainer at a good facility. I can think of no other outdoor sport that engages those hard to reach yet desired to be fit areas of the body more than riding. An hour or so in the saddle whips the lower back, abdominals, glutes and that complex web of inner/outer thigh muscles more satisfactorily than any other sport I’ve engaged in.

Front Adductor Muscles: Horseback riding isolates this very special inner thigh muscle

Horseback riding also isolates and tones this special rear inner thigh muscle

Rear Adductor Muscles: Horseback riding also isolates this very special rear, inner thigh muscle

The overall result is that if you horseback ride regularly–walking, trotting, cantering and even jumping–your figure will look more shapely for it, particularly your rear wheels.

I recommend you augment riding with a cardiovascular activity like jogging or aerobics, as it will trim fat and increase your riding stamina. Riding last week after a month-long break had me nearly toppled over in the saddle after a couple laps cantering in an outdoor ring. Angel the horse, who exercises every day, on the other hand, was doing just fine.

Regular riding thins and sculpts the entire inner/outer thighs and glutes, and seems to morph the entire leg into something of a band of steel. It even adds some oomph to the arms from holding the reins and steering.

When I don’t ride at least weekly, I notice a quick change in the look of this area. Wanting to sustain it on a permanent basis I have asked two horse trainers how to get the same workout without riding. Apparently there is no other sport or exercises that engage the same areas of the body in the way that horseback riding does.

That, plus using subtle hand and leg gestures to command a 1,000-plus pound animal over a wood pile makes riding a diversion of vast physical and mental payoffs. In all, riding is a tremendous confidence, poise and derriere shaper, and I highly recommend it.

A Fine & Proper Punch For Your Holiday Festivities


This easy to make, grown-up punch recipe hails from the 19th century, and can be  found in the famous Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer. With the exception of the bitters, the ingredients are easy to find. (Use fresh-squeezed lime juice, not the bottled variety.) The result, particularly the contrast of the sweetened citrus against the rum, is delightful.

  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup rum
  • 1 cup water
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 5 drops of bitters

Combine all ingredients and pour over ice in a bowl or pitcher.

Here, Here: In Praise Of Individual Style


The Beautiful Joan Collins

“Yes, I know fashions change and everyone attempts to look up-to-date but the movie-star styles of the Twenties, Thirties, Forties and Fifties changed radically. What didn’t change, however, was their individual style; they were all one-offs.”

–Joan Collins, quoted in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, on the lack of individual style in Hollywood today.

Did you know Miss Collins made her London stage debut at age 9 in A Doll’s House and became a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at age 16?

Born in 1933, this enduring glitterball–and clearly smart cookie–was a much buzzed-about beauty in her native Britain before coming to Hollywood in the 1950’s, well before her fur and diamond-studded role as Alexis Carrington in Dynasty.

Learn What You Like By Looking

If, in the course of your everyday life, you spot someone who is particularly eye-catching, deconstruct them for a moment to discover why. (Note: For this on-the-street study to be its most successful, you must get specific.)

Perhaps their clothes are interesting, beautifully cut or suit their figure particularly well. Or the colors of their garments, or makeup or accessories, lift and accentuate the best of their hair, skin and eye shades. Maybe it’s their smile, strut or speech that gives off such an appealing vibe. In many cases it will be a bit of all of these things.

Conversely, when you see someone who has missed the mark in a big way, try to suss out why. Much of the time it has to do with an unkempt appearance or clothes that hinder rather than help one’s personal image or silhouette. Poor posture is an instant glamour-smotherer as well.


Hot Spot: Descanso Gardens (Los Angeles)

A leisured stroll through the Descanso Gardens is an easy swap for the most glorious oxygen skin treatment on Earth. That is because this botanical garden has miles of roses, lilacs, camellias and unheard of plants from everywhere. It has crooked skinny paths and hidden corners and beautiful stretches of glorious green grass to splay out on.

The scent of the air changes from moment to moment, and nowhere in Los Angeles can you experience such an invigorating symphony of fresh air, bending branches, soft petals and life scattering beneath the ground. You will emerge as happy as a child.

Located in the lovely Los Angeles town of La Canada Flintridge, the Descanso Gardens are open every day except Christmas.

Descanso Gardens

1418 Descanso Drive

La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

Viva La Glamour

In these modern times, there are few glamour girls to be found among the ranks of celebrity. (One must be dignified to also be glamorous. This criterion cancels out 96.5% of those on the radio, in tv/film or seen in magazines.)

Ah, Monica Bellucci. The rare glamour beacon among the famous. She is not just a competent actress; she has an elemental, earthy sexiness. That, in tandem with her elegance, makes her utterly glamorous.

So it’s not just her native beauty–it’s her bearing (in this case, her poise and authenticity) that makes her so lovely. It also makes it possible for her to appear nearly nude on a magazine cover and still be considered to play the film part of a saint.

Remember: true beauty, glamour, whatever you call it–it’s never just about how you look–it’s very much about how you act, how you move, how you speak.

And the man standing next to her has every reason in the world to beam. His wife is age 45 and 1 month prior to this picture had given birth to their 2nd child. That’s all.

A Stand Against Swearing

Exhibit A: Foul Mouthed Hooligan

Though physical altercations are far from glamorous, I couldn’t help but feel a little Hip-Hip-Hooray when I heard about the woman and man who confronted a foul-mouthed hooligan about his language in the stands of the U.S. Open this week. The hooligan’s response was to step up his vulgarity.

In short, a deserved beat-down of said foul-mouthed hooligan ensued.

If you have been out and about for longer than a decade, you may have noticed that there has been an increase in this kind of behavior–usually young men (but more and more, girls) who swear in public. And not just a word or two, but long, loud belligerent monologues of filth-flying-filth speak that destroy the dignity of any environment.

When confronted, today’s response is not that of the past–a quick and sincere apology–but a step-up in the belligerence and filth talk.

I suspect the rise of such behavior has everything to do with the fact that it is allowed to exist. Unchecked and unabated, it is flourishing and becoming more and more the norm. Those who hate it but tolerate it–or confront it–are decent people who are offended but hate to make a scene.

The hooligans know this–hence their “make me” response when told to stop.

This behavior, if confronted like this–boldly and often and backed up by the rest of the crowd–will result in bratty, weak louts like this to shrink, check their conduct. Or, at least, revert us back to the not-distant past, when being told to stop resulted in a swift halt and an apology.

Shedding Your Shell

As they grow, spider crabs naturally create a new shell to accommodate the increased size of their body. New skin is grown within the shell, so when the crab feels the time is right, he’ll flex his body, forcing the old shell to splinter off his body and onto the ground. The crab then walks away, leaving the remnants of his old self on the ground.

Now, what in blazes does a spider crab have in common with you? You both walk around with shells of a sort, a public identity. Yours is made up of  items like your choice of hair style, makeup, clothes, shoes and accessories. Your movement, speech, behavior and manner are also vital parts of your shell.

And, like the spider crab, as you grow, your public identity should be revamped, reconfigured or, when needed, completely shrugged off and left behind for one that suits who you are today. And communicates your most attractive and authentic self to the world.

The Glamour Of Less Junk In Your Mailbox

Unwanted catalogues and envelopes offering you junk you don’t need, stuffing up your mailbox and heaping more volume on the daily armload of stuff that you haul into your home each day is far from glamorous.

Plus, opening envelopes can be hell on nails. Oh, and perusing some glossy unrequested catalogue packed with gorgeous resort wear shot in some splashy locale is way too tempting an activity to engage in, financially speaking, on some dark and snowy Monday evening in January.

Reduce this daily bulk by contacting the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), where you can specify specific companies that you do not wish to receive direct mail from, or opt-out from all member companies with one-click. You can do this for catalogues, credit offers, magazine offers and “other mail offers.” Note that this opt-out will only be effective for those marketers that are members of the DMA.

Do this here:

Golf: A Game Of Glamour Aplenty

Sam Saunders, Glamour Golfer

As the Masters are underway, it appears to be an opportune time to mention style as it related to golf. Whether you are a regular golfer or have never stepped foot on the fairway (and have no plans to do so), know that golf is a goldmine of glamour as it relates to easy-on-the-eyes male style.

Among the many finely attired male golfers out there are Camilo Villegas and Sam Saunders, two young golfers who bring glamour aplenty to the greens with tailored, unrumpled pants, finely fitted collared shirts and an attention to belts, shoes and grooming.

And, as no presentation is complete without elegance of movement, their attire is not the only thing in place–they move along the course with fine posture and quiet energy.

In the sea of haphazard scruff that is sadly the default style of most males in their 20’s and 30’s (slouchy shorts that reach nearly to the ankles, droopy t-shirts, you get the picture), it is heartening to see these standout golfers look like something we rarely see out there–gentlemen.

How does this relate to glamour and, more importantly, to you?

Camilo Villegas--Style Improves One's Backswing

No matter what you are doing or where you are doing it, it is always possible to inject a bit more of personal glamour. Think of your grooming, style, movement and manner–and what you can do to make each of these areas even better.

While these golfers are undoubtedly under massive amounts of stress performing in such pinnacle-level tournaments, they must know that these are the times to ratchet up, rather than relax, their standards. And I’m betting that looking beautifully pulled-together helps, rather than hurts, their game.

Champagne Tips: Keep a Bottle of Brut Bubbly (Or Sparking Wine) Around

King Louis XV’s official companion, the beauty Madame de Pompadour, is thought to have said: “Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it.”

A practical and glamorous household habit then, is to always keep a chilled bottle of sparkling wine or champagne in the refrigerator. One never knows when one might need it on the spot to celebrate or commiserate. Or look a bit more beautiful.


Difference Between Brut Versus Dry and Extra Dry Champagne


champagne, bubbly, icebox, chandon blanc de noirs Make sure the bottle is of decent quality, and is kept well-chilled.

Among champagne tips, here’s a biggie: I would opt for a Brut style of wine, which is quite dry as far as champagnes go. Many people beg off champagne because they experience an instant headache upon drinking it. This is due to the high sugar content of Dry and Extra Dry styles of wine. So check labels before purchasing, and assure guests that you’re serving them a dry wine, not a sugar bomb.

Two special occasion favorites are Krug Grand Cuvee Brut (approximately $130) and Dom Perignon (approximately $150 and up, depending on the vintage).

For an everyday wine that is festive, dry and goes well when enjoyed solo or with food — pizza and seafood work nicely; chocolate also — my all-time favorite is Chandon’s Blanc de Noirs (approximately $20).

Chandon’s Blanc de Noirs is a Rose style, which does not at all mean it is pink and sweet, but contains a higher amount of red wine than is usual. In this case, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Crisp, lovely and a tad fruitish, this sparkling wine is served at all White House receptions, yet easily acquired at a neighborhood grocery store.