Invitations: You and me plus who?

Hello readers and happy Tuesday! Today, just a very quick tip regarding invitations and RSVPs. When you are lucky enough to receive an invitation to an event, be sure to pay attention to how it is addressed, as that is your cue to learn who in your household is actually invited to the soirée.

Basic rules of thumb:

If the invitation is addressed to you and only you, then you and only you are invited to the party.

Miss Jane Smith and guest = you may bring a friend or a date.

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith = You and your spouse (get a sitter for the children and have a ball!).

The Smith Family = You, your spouse and your 10 lovely children.

For formal occasions, such as weddings and über elegant dinner parties, even if you believe the invitation is addressed in error, refrain from calling the hostess to ask if you may bring your children or a date. This will put your hostess on the spot, especially if she or he is working within a strict budget.

That said, it is OK and even encouraged to call the host and inquire as to the suggested attire for the event or for clarification of what is meant by “formal island cowboy cocktail chic” or some similarly ambiguous description.

Finally, when you send out invitations, extend the same courtesy and address the correspondence to whomever’s faces you’d like to see at the party.

Happy celebrating.

Cheers!

M

 

 

 

 

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Celebrate kindness

Hello and happy 2011!

After a short hiatus, we are back and ready to celebrate the many ways we can spread kindness and good manners.

First, let’s bid adieu to 2010, with this symbolic photo:

 

Bye-bye 2010

 

Now, it’s time to tackle the etiquette, style and grace issues of this brave new year. The No. 1 order of business, thank you notes.

We are fortunate enough to have received gifts from a few friends and acquaintances from whom we didn’t expect a thing. It’s so important to acknowledge these kindnesses, whether or not you intend to reciprocate. To make this task more enjoyable, we recommend you pour a cup or glass of your favorite bevvy, find the pen you most enjoy using and dig out that lovely paper you have tucked away for just this sort of thing. You might even want to light a scented candle, who are we to judge?

Simply thank the giver, tell them how you have used or intend to use the item and sign it with your usual salutations. For example,

Dear Sally,

The gorgeous scarf you gave me for Christmas is an absolute hit! It complimented my various holiday ensembles so well, I wore it to nearly every fete. Thank you so much for thinking of me amidst the hustle and bustle of the season.

With love,

Jill

It’s really just that simple and what with your delicious couple of glasses glass of wine, it was also a treat.

May your 2011 be filled with many treats and even more reasons to say thank you.

Cheers!

Melanie

 

Wealth and prepdom: If you’ve got it, don’t flaunt it

Today marks the release of “True Prep,” by Lisa Birnbach and Chip Kidd, which is the long-awaiting follow-up to “The Official Preppy Handbook,” (well-worn copies of which many of you likely still cherish own).

Our copy of the book arrived a few days ago and we spent all weekend pouring through it. The section devoted to etiquette is delightful, as expected, and it reinforces our beliefs that a thank you card is always appropriate, overt displays of wealth are TTFW and when in doubt, proceed with restraint (a more detailed post on the etiquette portion to come).

Meanwhile, further reinforcing our beliefs on the latter was David Brooks’ column in today’s New York Times, entitled, “The Gospel of Wealth.” Here is an excerpt:

“The United States once had a Gospel of Wealth: a code of restraint shaped by everybody from Jonathan Edwards to Benjamin Franklin to Andrew Carnegie. The code was designed to help the nation cope with its own affluence. It eroded, and over the next few years, it will be redefined.”

We sincerely hope Mr. Brooks is correct in his predictions and that if anything good can come of America’s financial woes, it might be that we get over the compulsion to show and tell anyone and everyone how much money we have or want them to think we have in our bank accounts.

In other “True Prep” news, Birnbach launched the book with an appearance on the Today show this morning and amid a media blitz. Visit the Preppy Princess blog for an excellent synopsis of all things “True Prep,” and Birnbach, including a links list of the Today show segment and myriad articles about the book.  Note that you can order a copy of the book, $13.95 (as of the date of this post), through the Preppy Princess online store by clicking here

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday and stay tuned for a giveaway of “True Prep,” after we finish taking notes!

Cheers!

M

Tuesday turnaround

Happy Tuesday readers! Today, we decided to turn things around and ask you about your top etiquette pet peeves. From people eating with their mouths open and oversharing to bad hygiene and bad FB habits, let’s gab about what makes you gasp. For example, people who drink too much and behave badly. Exhibit A:  

Image courtesy AMC Mad Men

Mad Men’s Don Draper is smart, charming, elegant and mysterious, but we all know when he drinks too much, he is a naughty boy. OK, he’s bad with or without the booze, but you get our meaning.

So, post your comments here, on Facebook or Twitter or shoot us an e-mail at charmfinder@gmail.com and tell us what offends you or what society could do to re-find its style, sophistication and respectability.

Cheers!

M

Weekend getaway gift: Felted soap

Throughout the summer, many of us find ourselves spending weekends with friends or family in another city, because of weddings, vacations or yearly visits. We’ve discussed before that you should do everything possible to be a great guest when someone is kind enough to open up his or her home to you. By bringing or sending a hostess gift (or both), you are on your way to being invited back for another fun-filled getaway.  We often gift little luxury items, because while we like to indulge in the small, but decadent things in life, we try not to go overboard and therefore love to get them as gifts ourselves.

One of the best places to find fabulous toiletries, especially fancy soaps, in a pinch or otherwise is Anthropologie. Yes, it’s a chain, but by golly, it’s a chain that gets it right every single time! From the store’s music and decor; to the clothes and accessories; down to the scents and quirky books and household items we just love it in spite of ourselves. Oh, and they gift wrap. For free.

So, for your next hostess gift purchase, we’d like to recommend the natural, handmade, Fiat Luxe Felted Soap, $14, at Anthropologie:

Image courtesy of Anthropologie

These pretty little soaps are wrapped in felted wool to create a sort of washcloth. The wool is naturally antibacterial and it serves as an exfoliator (remember, exfoliation is your key to the fountain of youth). If that wasn’t enough, the felt shrinks as the soap is used, so when the original “melts” away, pop in a new bar.

Find them at your nearest Anthropologie store or order online by clicking here.

We like to buy several at a time and keep them handy for gifting. Also, it’s always fun to have a “signature” gift, especially when it’s something as divine as delicious smelling soap.

Happy travels this weekend and beyond and remember to send a thank you note (Anthropologie has those too).

Cheers!

M

Links we love

We’ve been meaning for some time now to tell you about a few of our favorite online haunts. So, when a friend recently asked for a list, we thought we might use the opportunity to multi-task a bit. That said, we’ve had linkage posted at the bottom right of the blog since its inception, so for those of you who have already seen it, please accept our apologies.

This list includes blogs, websites and print publications from the areas of style, travel, design, etiquette and all around lifestyle-type of content.  It is in no particular order, so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings:

A Life Obscura: A fun and informative blog about travel, life, experiences, people and things written by a dear friend.

All Things Austin Design: This is the design blog of a former colleague and fellow writer in Austin. She knows her stuff and keeps it fresh, funny and fairly local. The design scene in Austin is hoppin’ so if you like design, check it out.  

Daddy Likey: A hilarious fashion blog. You will likey.

Garden & Gun (Think of it as the”Vanity Fair of the South”): You can thank me later.

Ivy Style: Intelligent, informative and lots of good eye candy.

Mad Men Unbuttoned: Because one night a week isn’t enough Draper or Holloway (Harris) for any of us.

Melanie Spencer Words and Pictures: In case you want to look at my fabulous photography.

Muffy Martini: Because we like martinis.

Preppy Princess: We’ve been reading Preppy Princess for years. She keeps us informed about all things pink and green (especially as it relates to Lilly Pulitzer) and all things preppy and for that, we love her (and her little dog, Silly Tilly too!). The Princess also has an online boutique at www.preppyprincess.com.

Social Primer: Manners, Conversation, Style and Handling Your Liquor — what’s not to like? All from the male perspective. This is also a good place to find a few select stationery (swoon) items and things with monograms (be still our hearts).  

Social Q’s (New York Times): This is another long-time favorite, written with style, wit and taste by Philip Galanes.

Town & Country: An absolute must in everyone’s periodicals library. Unfortunately, the website leaves a lot to be desired, but we are purists and prefer print, so no harm, no foul.

Thanks to all of the above for entertaining and educating us. Please check the links list often, because we update and add to it whenever we discover something fun and fabulous. Also, send us your fave links. We love to share!

Cheers!

M

New places, new faces

During our recent travels through the South, we met scores of wonderful new people. In Mobile, we attended a magazine launch and visited several art galleries, gathering memories and business cards along the way. In New Orleans, we met fellow travelers, locals out on the town and locals working in the cafes, bars and restaurants, gathering more memories and names and e-mail addresses scribbled on scraps of paper and napkins.

Call us old-fashioned, but when we get a number or an e-mail, we follow-up with a thank you and an “it sure was nice to meet you.” We may or may not have the pleasure of ever again seeing our new friends and acquaintances, but either way, who doesn’t like to get a call, note or e-mail of hello and “thanks for the laughs” or “the suggestions of things to do and see” or “I hope to see  you again in September” from a person whose company you enjoyed? Also, it’s a great excuse to use the new fountain pen and paper you bought during your travels (see yesterday’s post).

Finally, if you don’t just want to be a lovely person leaving a trail of kindness and good will in your path, think of it as networking. One never knows where the next great opportunity might lie.

Cheers!

M

The (fountain) pen is mighter than the sword

None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain pen

or half its cussedness; but we can try.” — Mark Twain

The last time we chatted, it was onward and upward from Mobile to New Orleans, as we meandered through the South. We’ve decided that our Franco-philia can be well-satisfied in the Crescent City.

This is a place where one can easily imagine Marie Antoinette and Louis  XVI having settled post French Revolution, were it not for that unfortunate business with the guillotine. An oft-employed icon of French royalty — and one of which we are quite fond — the fleur-de-lis, abounds in the architectural details of buildings,  wrought iron fences and balconies, on every imaginable object and clothing item and — our personal fave — on paper.

It won’t surprise you then that one of our goals on this trip was to shop for paper and writing instruments. At Re-find, we prefer this to the usual T-shirts or kitschy travel mugs when it comes to souvenirs, not that there is anything wrong with the former. But one can never have too much quality paper for thank you notes, proper letters, jotting or doodling.

So began our quest.

In the French Quarter, we stumbled upon Papier Plume, which is owned by a charming Frenchman. It is a well-edited space on Royal, with a lovely — albeit somewhat masculine — selection of leather-bound notebooks, ball point and fountain pens and other fine papers. That said, we were hoping for a place just a tad more feminine and with slightly more variety in the price department. After all, one must save her pennies for delicious bites and cocktails when in New Orleans.

We didn’t visit the area the last time we were in town, but had a good feeling about Magazine Street, what with it’s reputation for miles-and-miles of boutiques. Turns out, we were spot on.

One of the first places we stumbled upon is the most magical shop, Aiden Gill for Men.

Aiden Gill for Men

It’s filled to the rim with old school razors and brushes; ties (bow and neck) and cufflinks; men’s toiletries and accessories, such as Masen Pearson brushes and combs; books for men on etiquette and dressing; and a barber shop in the back, where one receives a whiskey or a beer — of course — with every cut ($35).

Aiden Gill manly display window

It’s all terrifically refined.

We purchased two books as gifts for our nephew,”How to Be a Gentleman: A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners,” and “A Gentleman Gets Dressed Up: What to Wear, When to Wear it, How to Wear it,” both by John Bridges.  We think these books should be in every young man’s library, especially during etiquette or special occasion dressing emergencies, when the auntie is unreachable for advice.

The kind, knowledgeable and  dapper staff at Aiden Gill recommended a stationery store down the road and we were back to the task at hand.

Soon, we landed at Scriptura, a fine stationery store where we played, petted and swooned for far too long.  It’s a wonderland of custom, personal, novelty and wedding papers for every occasion or, just because. The store’s own line, Celebrate New Orleans, offers cards, notepads and papers with streetcars, crowns and fleur-de-lis, to name a few. Part of the proceeds go toward the ongoing effort to rebuild and renew post-Hurricane Katrina.

It is here, that we found a simple, stainless steel Pilot fountain pen and a little slice of heaven.

Cheers!

M