Monday, July 14, 2008

Let Them Eat Crème Brulée!

My fabulous friend Plumcake has many wonderful qualities, and among the best of them is the fact that she somehow contrived to get herself born on Bastille Day, thereby ensuring a lifetime of perfectly good reasons to be taken to a French restaurant at least once a year. How clever was that of her? And how clever am I, to have made friends with her and therefore to have the opportunity to take her to said French restaurant?

Of course, because I am a dedicated fashionista, I determined that Plumcake's birthday dinner at Chez Nous on Bastille Day was a very special occasion that required a wardrobe to match. An all-French wardrobe, to be precise. (Liberté! Égalité! Gaultier!) Okay, some of it is because I'm a fashionista, but mostly it's because I'm a silly, silly woman who happens to be a mad francophile. Also, lately, I've been very intrigued by the idea of wearing my Hermès scarves as halter tops, and I thought this was the time to do it. Seriously -- if I don't get to go to a bal des pompiers and hang out with the gorgeous Parisian firemen, the least I can do is eat crème brulée while swathed in Hermès, right?

Now, this is risky. Not because the halter idea is very daring -- when you're as small-busted as I am, overexposure is pretty much a non-issue. The risk comes because French food? Can be messy. All those yummy sauces? They drip. The butter. The cream. The crumbly bread. Fraught with messiness, and I am a notoriously careless eater, and the wine doesn't help with that. Also, I'm a gesticulator. It's difficult for me to make a point -- hell, it's difficult for me to form a sentence -- without an accompanying hand motion. So get me all worked up over one of my pet peeves (Crocs, say. Or Juicy Couture sweatpants.) while I've got a forkful of truite amandine and there's no telling what might happen. (Although it would be unconscionably cruel to bring up those subjects with me while I was enjoying French food. Whaddya wanna do, gimme the agita?) So I'll need to go slow and be careful. This is not a bad thing, it will help me to savor my meal.

I have two Hermès scarves, both acquired on my last trip to Paris. This is my Jardins d'Hiver

I'm sorry, this is a terrible photo, but trust me when I say it's a work of art. And this is my Jeu d'Omnibus:

But how best to do this?

First, I did some experimenting on my own.

This is very simple -- I tied two corners around my neck, and two corners around my waist, and voila! A top! It required some futzing, I rolled the tied ends at the neck a few times to create more of a cord effect and take up some of the extra fabric. I like this -- it's quite full on the front, but that makes it seem luxurious, with all that billowy fabric, and it does a good job of showing off the design of the scarf. Also, this method gives it the most length, which I prefer with the skirt I'm going to wear with it -- I want the scarf to come down over the waistband of the skirt a bit.

Next I tried the method recommended by Hermès:

This is also extremely simple, three knots instead of two. First, you tie a knot in the very center of the scarf on the reverse side to take up the slack in the fabric. And then you do what I did the first time -- two ends around the neck, two ends around the waist. This gives a much more fitted effect, which is nice, and shows off the bright blue border of the scarf, which is a color that does wonders for me. The downside is that it's shorter, you can't see the design as well, and you've got a big ol' knot pressed up against your sternum. (It's a knot of Hermès silk, of course, so it's not exactly torture.)

So these two methods are both great with the Jardins d'Hiver, but when I tried them with my Jeu d'Omnibus, I couldn't manage them. The blue scarf is a classic 90 x 90 cm size, but the pink scarf is a vintage style, which means it's smaller -- only 70 x 70 cm. That makes it too small to fit around my ribcage and knot in the back. Hmmmmmmm, what to do? So I did some surfing on the Series of Tubes and found (oh, I wish I could remember where) this:

Brilliant!!! Put on a fairly substantial necklace. Fold the scarf in half diagonally to make a triangle. Bring the points of the triangle up and tie them in a knot around the necklace, and the bottom points around your waist. This is genius, and I love the way it looks with this scarf, whose circular design really works well here. It fits very closely and feels very secure. I also tried this with the blue one:

Looks great, but it feels a little less secure because there's more fabric and so it's looser on the sides. Still -- pretty fab, non?

So I'm all set. I have also found a diagram for wearing the scarf as a one-shoulder sarong-kinda thing, but the geometry is more complicated and I've yet to master it. Saving that for a day when I've got a little more time and patience. And maybe someone to help, because a gal could pull a muscle trying to reach around herself to tie those knots.

And since we're speaking of birthdays, mine is coming up next month and I've decided that I want my birthday treat to myself to be this:


This pattern is called Jungle Love. Isn't that the most amazing thing? This isn't the colorway I'm after -- there's a red version that you can see here. Oh, it's just ravishing, I love it like a boyfriend. So I've set myself a goal. I'm socking away my pennies in my Luxury Tithe, and if I can go a month without buying any shoes, clothes or other fashion items, I'll treat myself to a new scarf for my birthday. It really shouldn't be that hard for me to stay on a No Buy for a month -- I've shopped my brains out over the last few months. In my defense, a lot of my wardrobe was no longer wearable due to my weight loss. Seriously -- even some of my shoes are now too big. But I've filled in the gaps pretty admirably and now I need to just work what I have and give the charge cards a breather. I know my friend Deja Pseu over at Une Femme d'un Certain Age is also on a No Buy -- so now you've got a No Buy Buddy, Deja! Anyone else who wants to join in, feel free to hop on the bandwagon!

Oh, and Joyeux Fête Nationale to all!!

Photos: Style Spy,

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Anonymous said...

All I can say is wow on the creative scarf-wearing idea.
If only I could pull it off ;-)

Unknown said...

Wow that is a great use of scarf :D could you please be so kind and write some of the names of the sites? Thank you!

StyleSpy said...

Kim -- It doesn't take a lot of pulling off, especially if you plan to wear a cardigan or jacket over the halter, as I do. What it does take, though, is a pretty small bust and ribcage, because good luck finding a bra that fits under a scarf! There are precious few perks to being flat-chested, but this is definitely one of them!

StyleSpy said...

W -- one great place to get scarf ideas is the Hermes site itself -- Once you get into the scarf section of their online store, you can find a link that says "Playtime with your scarf" and by clicking on that you can download a PDF document with lots of great ideas.

Scarlet Pamplemousse said...

Wow! All those styles are lovely. I really, really like the one with the necklace.

Happy Birthday to the fabulous Plumcake! Definitely an auspicious day on which to be born.

I love reading your blog, StyleSpy, because you are a kindred Francophile spirit. I wish I had known about this blog before I went to Paris last year, I'd love to know where to look for vintage Hermes scarves!

StyleSpy said...

TDL -- the scarf isn't an actual vintage one, it's a vintage style, meaning it's smaller than the regular scarves (and therefore slightly less expensive). Some of them are re-issues of old designs -- the Jeu d'Omnibus is actually the very first design that Hermes ever released on a scarf.

Duchesse said...

Those halters are divine!

The scarf you're wishing for, Jungle Love, would make a great top... I have it but am wider, so that's too much "love", but it also looks great tied.

Anonymous said...

You totally rock the halter scarf look. Wish I could do the same. Even after years of living in Paris, I can barely tie one around my neck in that effortless-looking way. No way would I risk a halter! I bought my raffle tickets for the firemen's bal (I'm totally a sucker for those adorable french pompiers). But I'll be watching the fireworks from my terrace. Happy Bastille Day!

materfamilias said...

All those versions look fabulous on you, but I'm especially impressed by the ones with the necklace. And no one could accuse these Hermès scarves of being too bourgeois, not the way you're wearing them!

Anonymous said...

LOL I have a huge weakness ...scarves!!! I love the second to end method of wearing them often with a neck wire. I baste it on very carefully to around the wire. Hermes got me young , way under age 20! My favourties that are recent are emerald green & horse, red& chains,White with big Cat, And many Black ones ...I should b shot for my one little lie to my DH ,who thinks I pick them up for a song LOL. The long silk small ribbons wraped around the scarp does wonders for keeping the style on! I LOVE the one you have chosen for your 13th of aug. As my as I love the rich dark tones I find my white on goes on the most ,as it makes my face almost glow ...hope yours does the same Now shhh ...please the other K in my life,the guy who still wonders why I almost cry when I drop my scarf in the snow LOL K

Susan B said...

Style Spy - I love the colorway or your Jardins; it's so lively! I love the scarf-as-top look, and you wear it so well.

StyleSpy said...

Thanks, Deja -- that electric blue border really captured me when I saw the scarf in the boutique. And it seems to have made it through dinner unscathed, so hooray!

Anonymous said...

WOW! Love the scarves! I think any way you wear them look fab!

SO... "no buy" for a bit? Should I refuse to sell to you when you come to NMLC? Should I just say no even if you beg me and ask to speak to the manager? I will remind you of the HERMES you are saving for!

StyleSpy said...

Susan -- if I'm on a No Buy I can't even come into that store! Despite the e-mails that torture me with news of sales!

Kelly said...

I love the Jungle Love scarf too, I was looking at it a few months ago and very tempted!
I have saved up for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale set to start Friday so am going to buy some fall clothes for work there. My friend and I take the day off work and get there when the doors open at 7am...we've already got to preview some of the fall merchandise, lots of nice things out there this year!
And I love my Ellen Tracy dress, and get many compliments on it!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love the way you work with your scarves! I'm glad you enjoyed Bastile Day. A group of us from university always get together for a Bastile Day party. We all met in a French Revolution course in university, found out one of the men was born on Bastile Day and so a tradition was born.

I have to say I own "Jungle Love", in a beautiful blue, and I love it! It was a gift and though I can't wear it as a top, it is wonderful. Still, I'm torn between wearing it and having it framed and hanging it on the wall.


Belle de Ville said...

This look is the non plus ultra of chic...and not just on Bastille Day!
I've always wanted to know how to wear a hermes scarf as a halter. I don't know if I could pull off the whole halter thing, but I'm to try.

Belle de Ville said...

And are those south sea gold pearls? I don't know if I would tie even hermes silk over south sea pearls.