Month: November 2015

THE ART OF GIFT GIVING

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THE ART OF GIFT GIVING

Give others all that is alive in us—our interest, understanding, our knowledge, our humor, everything in us that’s good. In doing so, we enhance the sense of aliveness in others while enhancing our own. When we give, we get a “heightened vitality” of what it means to be human.”

With our changing economic times, everyone is asking for help in some form. There are as many reasons to give as there are ways to give.

Some people give for recognition. They want their names in programs, on park benches and in hospital lobbies. Others give expecting to be paid back or thanked, they give to get. Some people want a hands-on-experience and are generous with their time. Some like to give anonymously and don’t want any recognition at all.

People who truly master the art of giving give out of the goodness of their hearts with no self-serving motives. Giving becomes a blessing for the giver and receiver. Generosity is a choice that feels right and joyful. Generosity comes from believing you have enough to share.

The purpose of gift-giving, whether by an individual or a corporation, is to please the recipient. Your reasons for doing so may vary but, whatever the reason; the focus must remain on the recipient if you want to elevate your gift-giving to an art.

Routine, careless or improper gift-giving can do your cause or relationship more harm than good. Gifts are never a substitute for a caring attitude, good business practices, goodwill or company manners. Nor should a gift ever be given as a bribe or when it could be misconstrued as one.

The following are gifts we all have, even if you are not aware of it, that can benefit others. (1) Give of Your Talents – Give someone an hour of coaching, a signed copy of your book or a golf lesson. Can you offer child care? Or do you have plumbing, painting, or landscaping skills?; (2) Give things – Clean your home and clear out your closet of unwanted things. Give what you don’t use or need to charity. Your junk is someone else’s treasure; (3) Give blood/Be an Organ Donor – Save a life. I’ve done this on several occasions; it’s a great feeling to know you are helping to save someone’s life. It is also heartwarming to become an organ donor, and it’s another way to help save a life(s). And to know that a part of you will live on; (4) Give of yourself – Make someone feel loved, special and appreciated with a visit, phone call, email, text or card. Give a handmade gift. Give praise, gratitude and appreciation. This creates heart-to-heart connections; (5) Give someone a lift – When you encounter a quotation or a good news story, pass it on with a personal “thinking of you” note. This is spirit-lifting. It can make someone’s day. Today hand written notes and cards are rare gifts; (6) Give a recommendation – Enrich someone’s life by sharing the discovery of a great blog, book, restaurant, product or service. The message you give is “This was a great find for me and I want to share it with you.”; (7) Give the gift of laughter – Laughter brings health and happiness to others. It offers physiological, psychological and spiritual benefits. Laugh loud and laugh often with everyone; (8) Give an invitation – Being invited to any kind of event means people want to be with you. When you invite someone into your life you are saying, “I want to spend time with you, you are important to me; (9) Give affection – Appropriately offer a hug, a kiss on the cheek, a pat on the back, a touch on an arm or a tender look. We never lose the need for affection and acceptance. Touching heals emotional wounds; (10) Give good advice – Ask the question, “Do you want advice or to you want me to listen.” If needed and wanted advice can be life-saving. Shared insights and wisdom is a precious gift; (11) Give encouragement – When people are filled with doubt and fear they lack courage. When you inspire and motivate someone to act on their dreams, it can be life changing. You are making the world a better place; (12) Give An Act Of Kindness – Kindness is the easiest and most abundant gift we have to give away. Buy Girl Scout cookies, always open the door for the person behind you, return your grocery cart, make cookies for your neighbor. The list is endless. Kindness brings joy to the giver, receiver and anyone witnessing the act!; and (14) Give love – It’s easy to love those who love us back. Challenge yourself to give love to those who deserve it the least. Make your love unconditional. Make the world a more loving place. Everyone will reap the benefits!

Keep a file on anyone who might be on your gift list. Note any interests, hobbies and other personal information that arise in conversation throughout the year, like the person’s alma mater or the purchase of a new home, that may be a source of inspiration. The file does double duty because it can also be a source for casual conversation or a reason to stay in touch throughout the year. I make notes of friends and family members interests to make it easier for finding just the right gift.

Should you not be able to come up with any information about hobbies or interests, then consider a gift for the office like a leather business card case, good desk accessories, a crystal paperweight or a crystal and sterling inkwell for someone who uses a fountain pen. Gifts for the home are another option, provided they are not too personal or stylized. A good crystal vase filled with seasonal flowers like Amaryllis is appropriate for men and women. Food always makes an excellent gift, whether it is a case of Florida citrus fruit, a wheel of Vermont cheese or a crystal jar filled with candy.

In your research, don’t forget to note any dislikes. Nor should a gift reflect a person’s shortcomings. Someone with a skin problem may misinterpret a gift certificate for a facial. And, while a sense of humor is wonderful, a gift should not be used to play a joke on someone. Avoid liquor and wine unless you know the person well because they or their company might look upon alcohol negatively. Smoking accoutrements and chocolates can also be taboo gifts.

Specialty stores that cater to the person’s interests are probably the best source of ideas within your budget. Don’t be afraid to consult the sales staff, especially if you know nothing about the hobby. Don’t forget catalogues from major department and specialty stores throughout the country; a quick phone call will usually get one in the mail to you. Most large stores have an in-store shopping service that will make selections at little or no extra charge. Specialized gift services and personal shoppers can also be found in your local Yellow Pages.

Always wrap a gift before giving it. Not wrapping a present implies carelessness and an uncaring attitude. It undermines the impact of your gift. If you are all thumbs trying to tie a bow, have the store where you purchased the gift wrap it for you. Or, have a wrapping service or a friend do it for you. In selecting the wrapping, consider the recipient just as you did in buying the gift. A pink and blue bow on flowery paper will probably cause the a male executive to raise an eyebrow while a young female administrative assistant might wonder if the gift wrapped in navy, burgundy and Hunter green stripes were actually intended for her boss.

Remember to enclose a gift card with a personal comment and your signature. A correspondence card is an ideal enclosure card. If possible, give the gift in person. That you took the time to share the moment adds immensely to the occasion. More important, make sure the gift is timely. The impact of the gift diminishes with every passing day. Just think how thrilled you would be to receive your birthday presents three or four months after the day has passed.

Unless you are attending a celebration at which everyone else is giving gifts too, give your gift in private. Singling the person out with a gift in front of others can be embarrassing to the recipient and to the people who neglected to give a gift. When giving a gift, don’t insist the person open it immediately; the person might prefer to open it in private when they don’t have to worry about making the appropriate responses. Don’t disparage the gift with remarks like “Oh, it’s nothing!” because the recipient might believe you.

Always accept a gift gracefully, regardless of how you feel about the gift or the giver. Even if a gift appears to be a hostile act, like a health club membership for someone who is overweight, it may have been well intentioned, albeit misguidedly. A simple ‘thank you’ is always an appropriate expression of appreciation. Never diminish the giver’s generosity with a statement like ‘you shouldn’t have’ even if you wish they hadn’t. How would you feel if someone did that to you after you had invested your time, effort and money?

Although a telephone call may be easier and more convenient, a ‘thank you’ note is compulsory. And, the note should be written immediately. Putting it off makes it an increasingly onerous task and diminishes the impact of your gratitude.

It is perfectly acceptable to refuse a gift and, under certain circumstances, it becomes obligatory. Always return a gift that is extravagant, too personal, has sexual implications or can be misconstrued as bribery. Although you may be furious about the gift, venting your anger can put you at a disadvantage. Enclosing a note that, because of the nature of the gift you are unable to accept it is more than sufficient. Be sure to keep a copy of the note and return it in a way that ensures you have receipt of the return.

When you’ve taken the time to find out what is acceptable and what the person may like and you allow yourself enough time, you relieve yourself of much of the stress associated with giving. Finding the perfect present can become a fun-filled adventure. A gift given with joy is the most wonderful gift to receive, and taking pleasure in gift giving elevates the act to an art.

Kathy Kiefer

 

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ACCESORIZING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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919489_10151732965286363_1548741135_o ACCESORIZING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Use accessories with sparkle or shine to make outfits more festive. Choose one or two bold items to elevate your look. And have fun accessorizing! The holiday season is a wonderful time to dress up and highlight accessories you may not wear on a daily basis.

If you were invited to a holiday party this season and don’t have time or the money to go out and purchase a new dress, look to accessories to add some holiday spirit to what you already own.  Not only are accessories cheaper than buying a whole new outfit, but you don’t have to worry about dressing room meltdowns; jewelry usually fits.   You can even use many of my tips to take daytime dresses into proper evening wear.

Investing in a collection of accessories makes sense for both fashion-conscious shoppers and those with limited budgets.   Accessories let individuals create several different outfits simply by adding carefully selected jewelry, shoes, purses or accent pieces. This is useful during the holiday season when people need an easy way to transition from day to night wear, or want to update an existing look without having to purchase new clothes. These traditional ways to accessorize outfits transform and expand basic wardrobes for the holiday season.

Choose focal pieces, instead of over-accessorizing. Think bold instead of quantity. Try chandelier earrings, bold cuffs, multi-layer necklaces and cocktail ring, but not all at the same time. A good rule of thumb is not to put items too close together on the body. Instead of big earrings AND a big necklace, try big earrings and a cocktail ring.

Scarves are versatile and functional accessories that add a touch of color and warmth to a holiday outfit. These simple pieces of
fabric eliminate the need to search for coordinating jewelry and fit any body type. A printed scarf draped over the neckline dresses up a casual T-shirt, while a long, skinny silk scarf adds texture and panache to a dress. Scarves made from wool and silk blends work well in colder weather because they keep the body warm without adding excessive layers of clothing.

If you are larger in stature go for bigger pieces. Don’t wear anything so small that it simply gets lost on you. Conversely, if you are smaller, don’t wear pieces that are so big, it looks like you are drowning in decoration. Save that for the tree.

Just like red and green are colors to avoid at Christmas, resist “seasonal accessories” which include but are not limited to, ceramic reindeer or turkey pins, Christmas tree and candy cane earrings, mistletoe brooches and pilgrim hats (unless you are in a school play). Buy timeless, beautiful, interesting jewelry that will last you throughout the year with oodles of outfits, not just for November and December.

A faux fur vest is a fall wardrobe staple that works with a variety of looks. Unlike a coat that completely covers up an outfit, a vest adds a touch of warmth while letting the beauty of the ensemble shine through. Those who want a sophisticated look wear a faux fur vest over a slim turtleneck or fitted dress, while people who prefer a bohemian appearance pair the vest with a flowing skirt and boots.

One of the challenges of dressing for the holidays is finding accessories that stand out among layers of dark, bulky clothing. Chunky necklaces do just that by adding a pop of color to traditional holiday shades of black and gray. The secret to wearing statement pieces like cluster or collar necklaces is sticking with a single piece of jewelry that coordinates with the outfit. A cluster of silver beads around the neck, or a cascade of rhinestones draped over a collar, instantly perks up holiday flare.   Choose focal pieces, instead of over-accessorizing. Think bold instead of quantity. Try chandelier earrings, bold cuffs, multi-layer necklaces and cocktail rings — but not all at the same time. A good rule of thumb is not to put items too close together on the body. Instead of big earrings AND a big necklace, try big earrings and a cocktail ring.

Look to statement necklaces to add some glamour to any dress you’re thinking of wearing.  Right now these types of bold, chunky necklaces are really popular and perfect for evening.  Imagine how ready for a holiday party your little black dress will look with some bling around your neck.  Right now layering necklaces is one of the hottest trends.   If you’re bored with a string of pearls, try adding a second blingier necklace into the mix.  Additionally, it’s all about the bib necklace and there are tons of sparkly bib necklaces out there that look like they cost a fortune, but don’t.

Shine (metallic, patent, embellishment) is always good for dressing up an outfit and going from day to evening. Leave the beat-up leather boots or shoulder bag you wear every day to the office at home.

When in doubt about how to accessorize a dress for evening, go for metallic, silver or gold, your choice.  Not only does a pair of sparkly shoes and handbag make a dress look after-five appropriate but metallic will match whatever color your dress is.  You can go all metallic with a bag and shoes or just choose metallic in one or the other.  After the party, use these metallic accessories to liven up jeans or take a suit from desk to dinner.

Knee-high and ankle boots are holiday wardrobe staples that accent both dress and casual outfits. They add a touch of sophistication to a casual outfit and keep feet warm while consumers complete their holiday shopping. Ankle boots with embellishments like rhinestone studs or fur cuffs bring interesting detail to holiday dresses. When wearing boots, consumers need to aim for a balanced look between the boots and the clothing. They create a monochromatic look that slims the figure by pairing leggings, skinny jeans, or opaque tights with boots in the same color, or break up the pieces by opting for contrasting colors or neutral shades.

Another way to add some excitement to a holiday dress is through brightly colored shoes.  This strategy works well if your dress is in a neutral shade, like black, navy, brown or grey.  However, you can also add shoes in a bright color with a colorful dress if you want to color block your outfit.  If you really want to be festive, try wearing a pair of red shoes to your little black dress.  A great way to say holiday without going overboard.

Tights are a terrific accessory because they are inexpensive and available in a plethora of colors and patterns to complement any look. They keep legs warm in cooler weather and pull together the pieces of a holiday outfit. Opaque tights provide coverage that lets people wear skirts and dresses during the holiday season, while sheer tights let bare skin show through for a dressier look. In addition to the type of coverage, holiday dresses must consider how the tights’ colors and patterns look with the outfit. Tights with patterns as well as complementary colors break up monochromatic color schemes.

Sometimes, all it takes is a bag change to get a dress ready for a holiday party.  Grab a fun clutch with some sparkle or that is in an evening fabric, like satin, to elevate your dress for evening.  Like statement shoes in a bright color, a bright colored clutch is another way to add some festive feelings to your outfit in small doses.

When it comes to accessorizing for the holidays, a little goes a long way. You don’t have to go crazy with too many dressy details. Even if you choose one place to add a little shine, you will be well on your way to looking festive at your upcoming event. Try at least one of these accessorizing tips and you’ll be sure to shine.

My mother has been a source of style inspiration my entire life and helped to spark my love of vintage and stylish clothing. The best advice she gave me is that elegance is timeless and to wear what I love. If you love what you are wearing, it shows – elegance suits everyone!  I find it useful when I go out, I am always properly coordinated, with whatever I wear.

Kathy Kiefer

BLACK FRIDAY – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

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BLACK FRIDAY – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

What is “Black Friday”? What is the definition of “Black Friday”? Why is it called “Black Friday”?

Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the fourth Thursday of November). Since middle 1960’s through the present , it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the US, and most major retailers open very early (and more recently during overnight hours) and offer promotional sales. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but California and some other states observe “The Day after Thanksgiving” as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, makes it a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, although news reports, which at that time were inaccurate, have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time. Similar stories resurface year upon year at this time, portraying hysteria and shortage of stock, creating a state of positive feedback.

In 2014, spending volume on Black Friday fell for the first time since the 2008 recession. $50.9 billion was spent during the 4-day Black Friday weekend, down 11% from the previous year. However, the U.S. economy was not in a recession. The Christmas creep has been cited as a factor in the diminishing importance of Black Friday, as many retailers now spread out their promotions over the entire months of November and December rather than concentrate them on a single shopping day or weekend.  Contrary to what many believed, Black Friday did not originate from the sales of slaves on the day after Thanksgiving.

For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5:00 or even 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several opened at midnight for the first time. In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, prompting calls for a walkout among some workers. In 2014 stores such as JC Penny, Best Buy and others opened at 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day while stores such as opened at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day. Yet there are retailers who opted not to open at all on the holiday, so that employees could enjoy the day with their families. More announced they would do the same for 2015.  I have never gone shopping on either Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday, and have no intention of starting now.

The news media have long described the day after Thanksgiving as the busiest shopping day of the year. In earlier years, this was not actually the case. In the period from 1993 through 2001, for example, White Friday ranked from fifth to tenth on the list of busiest shopping days, with the last Saturday before Christmas usually taking first place. In 2003, however, Black Friday actually was the busiest shopping day of the year, and it has retained that position every year since, with the exception of 2004, when it ranked second (after December 18).

Black Friday is popular as a shopping day for a combination of reasons. As the first day after the last major holiday before Christmas, it marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Additionally, many employers give their employees the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In order to take advantage of this, virtually all retailers in the country, big and small, offer various sales including limited amounts of doorbuster/doorcrasher/doorsmasher items to entice traffic. Recent years have seen retailers extend beyond normal hours in order to maintain an edge, or to simply keep up with the competition. Such hours may include opening as early as 12:00 am or remaining open overnight on Thanksgiving Day and beginning sale prices at midnight. Historically, it was common for Black Friday sales to extend throughout the following weekend. However, this practice has largely disappeared in recent years, perhaps because of an effort by retailers to create a greater sense of urgency.

The news media usually give heavy play to reports of Black Friday shopping and their implications for the commercial success of the Christmas shopping season, but the relationship between Black Friday sales and retail sales for the full holiday season is quite weak and may even be negative.   “Black Friday” as a term has been used in multiple contexts, going back to the nineteenth century, where in the United States it was associated with a financial crisis of 1869.

Many merchants objected to the use of a negative term to refer to one of the most important shopping days in the year. By the early 1980s, an alternative theory began to be circulated: that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss for most of the year (January through November) and made their profit during the holiday season, beginning on the day after Thanksgiving. When this would be recorded in the financial records, once-common accounting practices would use red ink to show negative amounts and black ink to show positive amounts. Black Friday, under this theory, is the beginning of the period when retailers would no longer have losses (the red) and instead take in the year’s profits (the black).

Despite frequent attempts to control the crowds of shoppers, minor injuries are common among the crowds, usually as a result of being pushed or thrown to the ground in small stampedes. While most injuries remain minor, serious injuries and even deliberate violence have taken place on some Black Fridays.

The day after Thanksgiving as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season may be linked together with the idea of Santa Claus parades. Parades celebrating Thanksgiving often include an appearance by Santa at the end of the parade, with the idea that ‘Santa has arrived’ or ‘Santa is just around the corner’ because Christmas is always the next major holiday following Thanksgiving.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Santa or Thanksgiving Day parades were sponsored by department stores. These included the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, in Canada, sponsored by Eaton’s, and the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade, sponsored by Macy*s. Department stores would use the parades to launch a big advertising push. Eventually it just became an unwritten rule that no store would try doing Christmas advertising before the parade was over. Therefore, the day after Thanksgiving became the day when the shopping season officially started.

The sale day has caused a number of controversies over various practices: (1) Making unreasonable demands on staff, including requiring them to work, often long shifts, during Thanksgiving; (2) Health and safety risks due to insufficient staff for crowd management; (3) Selling “derivative” products manufactured just for Black Friday with lower specifications; and (4) Many employees are left with no choice but to work. (Work on Thanksgiving/Black Friday or be terminated).

Kmart began the trend of opening on “Gray Thursday” by opening at 7am, Thanksgiving morning, to appeal to those who wanted to miss any Black Friday traffic altogether, but still be home in time to have dinner with their families. As far back as 2009, Kmart has been utilizing this trend. It wasn’t until 2012, with backlash from the media, that Kmart started only opening at 6 pm on Thanksgiving Day, but staying open straight through Black Friday instead.

In recent years, retailers have been trending towards opening on Gray Thursday, occurring Thanksgiving evening. In 2011, Walmart began its holiday sale at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day for the first time. In 2012, Walmart began its Black Friday sales at 8 p.m. the day before on Thanksgiving; stores that are normally open 24 hours a day on a regular basis started their sales at this time, while stores that do not have round-the-clock shopping hours opened at 8 p.m. Competitors Sears and Kmart also opened at 8 p.m. on Thursday night, while Target and Toys “R” Us opened at 9 p.m. Other retailers, such as Lord & Taylor opened on Thanksgiving for the first time. In 2013, more retailers announced plans to open earlier on Thanksgiving. Kmart planned to open at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving and stay open for 41 consecutive hours until 11 p.m.  Friday. Toys “R” Us opened at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Walmart planned to start Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving while Best Buy planned to open at 6 p.m. JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears, and Target planned to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. In addition Simon Property Group planned to open its malls at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, it had been reported that 15,000 consumers “stormed the entrances” at Macy*s Herald Square for the 8:00 PM opening on Thursday.   The 2014 “Gray Thursday” sales were, a failure, as overall sales for the holiday weekend fell 11% compared to the previous year despite heavy traffic at the stores on Thanksgiving night. In response, a number of retailers decided to go back to closing on Thanksgiving for 2015, and Wal-Mart, although it is holding firm opening on the holiday and holding its sale, also pledged to offer the same deals online for those who wished to stay home.

Some websites offer information about day-after-Thanksgiving specials up to a month in advance. The text listings of items and prices are usually accompanied by pictures of the actual ad circulars. These are either leaked by insiders or intentionally released by large retailers to give consumers insight and allow them time to plan.

The term Cyber Monday, a neologism invented in 2005 by the National Retail Federation’s division Shop.org, refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday based on a trend that retailers began to recognize in 2003 and 2004. Retailers noticed that many consumers, who were too busy to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend or did not find what they were looking for, shopped for bargains online that Monday from home or work.

The National Retail Federation releases figures on the sales for each Thanksgiving weekend. The Federation’s definition of “Black Friday weekend” includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday. The survey estimates number of shoppers, not number of people.

The length of the shopping season is not the same across all years: the date for Black Friday varies between November 23 and 29, while Christmas Eve is fixed at December 24th had the longest shopping season since 2007.

Kathy Kiefer

HOLIDAY FASHION TRENDS

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HOLIDAY FASHION TRENDS

 

Holiday fashion trends for the winter holidays concentrate on luxury and sparkle.

Keeping up with the styles and trends can be exhausting and sometimes even impossible. Plus, with the holidays coming up, fashion becomes even more important. Many first impressions and holiday meet and greets require you to stay up to date and even ahead of the curve in regards to fashion. Your little black dress may be your staple piece to fall back on (we all have one) but this season, it’s time to break out of your comfort zone and be adventurous.

First and foremost, just because your little black dress is a dress, doesn’t mean all of your go to pieces need to be dresses. Try pairing straight legged pants with an exciting top littered with sequins. Make sure to balance the outfit out; the pants should be matte and your shirt should be sparkling. Navy, red and gold sequined shirts are the most favorable because they don’t go over the top, such as pink sequins shirts do. On that note, your little black dress is a classic for a reason: its simplicity.

Don’t overdo your sequined shirt by pairing it with feathers or rhinestones, or you run the risk of being that girl who “tried WAY to hard”, and no one wants that.

It’s no wonder women approach the holidays with dread: trying to coordinate outfits, gifts, travel and parties can overload even the most organized woman.
Instead of trying to match up dressy separates, try a little black dress this season. Not only is it universally flattering, it will take you to almost any event in style. Just add accessories and you’re set. Your hair should look uncomplicated as well. Opt for sexy half-up/half-down styles or pull your hair back into a low ponytail. Keep your makeup simple, but special: sometimes all it takes is a great red lipstick to dress it all up!

The Little Black Dress is being replaced by red. Vibrant, emotional and sensual, it is no surprise that red is competing for the new black. It is also perfect for the holidays! However, you don’t want to look like Mrs. Claus, so take the same principles you apply when wearing your little black dress, less is more.

You have also heard of “winter white”. Don’t forget about it this season! White is also holiday ready, reminding us of snowflakes, snowmen, winter wonderlands and other holiday festivities. White is the most fun because it can be accessorized easily and you can have a lot of fun with it. Pair up chunky all white sweaters with some long gold necklaces and bangles and a shimmery scarf for the ultimate winter outfit!

Holiday chic is festive and an excuse to dress up big time. If you can find something in your drawers and / or closet you can save time and money so panic, shop your closet. These trends have been around for some time and continue to be strong for the upcoming holiday season.

Florals (garden motifs) grounded in black are very “in style”. Florals were hot this summer and continue to be popular this winter. If you want to have a trendy look this holiday season, wear something floral. A major statement would be a floral dress but a floral evening bag, fascinator or floral shoes will give you an up-to-date look.

Luxurious fabrics like lace, velvet, brocade or satin are magical holiday favorites. Whether you want to look glamorous and sweet, or sexy and alluring an outfit in a luxurious fabric or combination of several luxurious fabrics says special occasion. When a fabric is fancy like lace or brocade clothing in simple designs are most chic. Black velvet can be very slimming and sensual but dark jewel tone velvets are great for holiday get togethers too. Plush, soft velvet feels good and says “luxury.” so it’s no wonder that velvet continues to be trendy for winter holiday dressing. For petites, darker colors of velvet will be better since textured velvet fabric is thicker than many other fashion fabrics we usually wear.

Be lovely in lace for this holiday season. Although holiday lace doesn’t have to be black, black lace is a fashion favorite, not only for that little black dress, but also for holiday bags, shoes, gloves, and tops.      Holiday trends include gloves this year, but they must be holiday special. This season’s holiday gloves move into the luxe category in velvet, satin, kid, or lace with embellishments such as ruching, beading, or sequins. In a nod to the 1980s, fingerless styles are on trend this year.

Sheer fabrics have been very hot but can be tricky to wear. A lot depends on your figure, the style of the outfit and where the sheer fabrics are located on the outfit. Outfits with transparent fabrics give the fashion diva a sexy look. They can look great on females of any age when the sheer fabrics are strategically located.  If you feel good when you wear an outfit and it looks great on you, go for it.

Sparkles (sequins and metallics) are a huge holiday trend. Any sparkly clothing whether a skirt, pants, jacket or dress is a statement piece.  One statement piece is enough for any outfit. Always combine sparkly separates with simple clothing and accessories. Sparkly dresses are elegant but should be worn with simple style jewelry and accessories. Never go head-to-toe in sparkles. A little sparkle goes a long way.   Mix pearls with rhinestones to be on trend this holiday season. Rhinestones will give your jewelry some holiday twinkle while the pearls give it a touch of class

Metal is “in” for the holidays, whether it’s a metal mesh evening bag, studded killer heels, or mixed metal jewelry. Many of this season’s metal accessories have a hard edge vibe while others, such as the evening bag shown, appeal more to fashionistas who favor vintage.   Sparkle in sequins this holiday season–there’s nothing like some glitz and glitter to enhance your holiday mood. You can find sequin decoration on tops, dresses, evening bags, and shoes.

Fur’s a huge trend this year, and a faux fur wrap is just right for holiday dressing. Keep warm on your way to a holiday party with a faux fur coat, jacket, or stole while looking glam at the same time

If you’ve ever dressed up shinier than a Christmas tree or turned down last-minute party invitations because you had nothing to wear, you’ll know that the holiday season is loaded with chances for fashion disasters. From overdone party looks to being caught with nothing to wear, there are lots of ways that holiday fashion can catch you at your stylish worst.

You show up in jeans, everyone else wears velvet; you wear a long dress and others wear business clothes. You’re not alone if you have trouble deciphering dress codes on a party invitation: most people get confused by designations as ambiguous as “Dressy Casual” or “Cocktail Attire.” A few dressy items span several categories like the little black dress for her or dark suit for him — both of which can attend everything from semi-formal to cocktail parties.

Here are some common holiday faux pas and how to avoid them: (1) Wearing Too Much Glitz – Beading, metallic and shimmer are all fine for the holidays. In fact, most women wait until a good party to break out all of the glitzy finery. But too much shine can overwhelm anyone, especially if you wear it in areas that you don’t necessarily want to highlight (like a beaded chest sweater for a busty gal). Done right, glitz can light up your face and highlight your best body parts. And don’t forget that sometimes the best glitz appears only in accessories: a beaded clutch, sparkly shoes or a hint of glitter eye shadow can go a long way;   (2) Showing Too Much Skin – Thigh-high miniskirts and cut-to-the-navel dresses may look great on the runway, but in reality they are almost impossible to carry off. Not only is it possible to dress sexy while leaving lots to the imagination, it’s also the best way to look your prettiest for the holidays. The secret here is to accentuate your best features with a suggestion: a lace-trimmed camisole under a blazer hints at great cleavage, a small slit on a skirt gives a glimpse at gorgeous legs, a halter dress shows off toned arms; and (3) Getting Caught With Nothing to Wear – Nothing is worse than being invited to a fabulous party and having nothing to wear. By keeping a few dressy basics in your closet you can always be prepared for last-minute invitations. You can even re-wear the items and make them look totally different just with accessories. Essentials like a great little black dress or perfect dressy black pants can take you a long way.

Kathy Kiefer

PLYMOUTH, MA – A LIVING HISTORY

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PLYMOUTH, MA – A LIVING HISTORY

Plymouth is a town located in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. Plymouth holds a place of great prominence in American history, folklore and culture, and is known as “America’s Hometown.” Plymouth was the site of the colony founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the famous ship the Mayflower. Plymouth is where New England was first established. It is the oldest municipality in New England and one of the oldest in the United States. The town has served as the location of several prominent events, the most notable being the first Thanksgiving feast. Plymouth served as the capital of Plymouth Colony from its founding in 1620 until the colony’s merger with the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1691. Plymouth is named after Plymouth, South West England, United Kingdom.

Plymouth holds the unique distinction of being the first permanent settlement in New England, and one of the oldest settlements in the United States.   Plymouth has played a very important role in American colonial history. It was the final landing site of the first voyage of the Mayflower, and the location of the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony. Plymouth was established in the December of 1620 by Anglicans and English separatists who had broken away from the Church of England, believing that the Church had not completed the work of the Protestant Reformation. Today, these settlers are much better known as “Pilgrims”, a term coined by William Bradford.

Plimoth Plantation, founded in 1947, is a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, that exhibits the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony established in the 17th century by English Colonists, some of whom later became known as Pilgrims. They were among the first people who immigrated to America to avoid religious persecution and to seek religious separation from the Church of England. It is a not-for-product museum supported by admissions, contributions, grants and volunteers.

As one of the country’s first settlements, Plymouth is well known in the United States for its historical value. The events surrounding the history of Plymouth have become part of the mythology of the United States, particularly those relating to Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving. The town itself is a popular tourist spot during the Thanksgiving holiday.  I remember going the Plymouth Plantation with my family when I was younger on one of our summer trips.

Prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims, the location of Plymouth was a village of 2,000 Wampanoag Native Americans called Patuxet. This region that would become Plymouth was visited twice by European explorers prior to the establishment of Plymouth Colony. In 1605, Samuel de Champlain sailed to Plymouth Harbor, calling it Port St. Louis. Captain John Smith, a leader of the colony at Jamestown, Virginia, explored parts of Cape Cod Bay; he is credited with naming the region which would become the future Plymouth Colony as “New Plimouth.”

The 17th-Century English Village is a re-creation of the small farming and maritime community built by the Pilgrims along the shore of Plymouth Harbor. The English Village brings colonial Plymouth vividly to life. Here, you will find modest timber-framed houses furnished with reproductions of the types of objects that the Pilgrims owned, aromatic kitchen gardens, and heritage breeds livestock. Engaging townspeople are eager to tell you about their new lives in Plymouth Colony.

Today, the people you meet are costumed role players portraying actual residents of Plymouth Colony. They have adopted the names, viewpoints and life histories of the people who lived and worked in the Colony. Each has a unique story to tell. Their viewpoints might shock or fascinate you, educate or entertain you. Imagine you have travelled back in time and can hear directly from the Pilgrims about the Colony’s difficult beginnings. Ask about religious beliefs, education and child rearing, relations with Native People, gardens, cooking, or any topic of interest to you. Or simply rest on a bench and enjoy the unique atmosphere of 17th-century Plymouth Colony.

The re-creations are sourced from a wide variety of first and second records, accounts, articles and period paintings and artifacts, and the museum conducts ongoing research and scholarship, including historical archaeological excavation and curation locally and abroad.

In the 1627 English Village section of the museum, interpreters have been trained to speak, act and dress appropriately for the period. At Plimoth Plantation they are called historical interpreters, and they interact with their ‘strange visitors’ (i.e. the modern general public) in the first person, answering questions, discussing their lives and viewpoints and participating in tasks such as cooking, planting, blacksmithing and animal husbandry. The 1627 English Village loosely follows a time line, chronologically representing the calendar year 1627 from late March through November (the months the museum is open), depicting day-to-day life and seasonal activities as well as featuring some key historical events such as funerals and special celebrations.   Alongside the settlement is a re-creation of a Wamanoag home site, where modern Native People from a variety of nations (not in period character, but in traditional dress) explain and demonstrate how the Wampanoag’s ancestors lived and interacted with the settlers.

The museum grounds at Plimoth Plantation also include Nye Barn, where historical breeds of livestock are kept; a crafts center where many of the objects used in the village exhibits are created; a cinema where educational videos are shown, a Colonial Education site for youth and adult groups, and visitors’ center with indoor exhibits and educational programs. The two houses on the Colonial Education site were built by Plimoth Plantation for the PBS show Colonial House filmed in Maine. Following the filming, the museum disassembled the houses and reconstructed them at Plimoth Plantation. The roof of one of these houses, the Cook House, was destroyed by a fire from a fireplace on November 19, 2011. The building had to be torn down.

The Mayflower II, docked near the purported Plymouth Rock, is also under the care of the museum. Colonial first-person interpreters represent the sailors and officers of the ship circa the 1620s. At some times, the “sailors” go on week-long trips to experience what it was like for Pilgrims.   The Mayflower II is a full-size replica of the Mayflower, the ship which brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620. It is located at the State Pier in Plymouth Center. The ship is open as a museum about the Pilgrims’ historic voyage from Plymouth, England, and is considered a faithful replica of the original Mayflower. It is officially a part of Plimoth Plantation. The ship is still seaworthy, and routinely takes voyages around Plymouth Harbor.

The Mayflower first anchored in what would become the harbor of Provincetown, Massachusetts on November 11, 1620. The ship was headed for Virginia, but eventually reached New England. There are varying theories as to how this happened. They include: violent storms threw the ship off course; a navigation error; the Dutch bribed the captain to sail north so the Pilgrims would not settle near New Amsterdam; and the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, who comprised only 35 of the 102 settlers aboard the Mayflower, hijacked the ship to land far from Anglican control. The Pilgrim settlers, realizing that the party did not have a patent to settle in the region, subsequently signed the Mayflower Compact. The Pilgrims went on to explore various parts of Cape Cod, but soon a storm and violent fights with local Native Americans forced the migrants to sail westward into Cape Cod Bay. The Pilgrims eventually came across the sheltered waters of Plymouth Harbor on December 17th. The appealing and protected bay led to a site in the present-day Harbor District being chosen for the new settlement after three days of surveying. The settlers officially disembarked on December 21, 1620. It is traditionally said that the Pilgrims first set foot in America at the site of Plymouth Rock, though no historical evidence can prove this claim. The settlers named their settlement “Plimouth” (also historically known as “Plimoth”, an old English spelling of the name) after the major port city in Devon, England from where the Mayflower sailed.

Plymouth faced many difficulties during its first winter, the most notable being the risk of starvation and the lack of suitable shelter. From the beginning, the assistance of Indians was vital. One colonist’s journal reports: ‘We marched to the place we called Cornhill, where we had found the corn before. At another place we had seen before, we dug and found some more corn, two or three baskets full, and a bag of beans….In all we had about ten bushels, which will be enough for seed. It is with God’s help that we found this corn, for how else could we have done it, without meeting some Indians who might trouble us.’

Even greater assistance came from Samoset and Tisquantum (better known as Squanto), an Indian sent by Wampanoag Tribe Chief Massasoit, as an ambassador and technical adviser. Squanto had been kidnapped in 1614 by an English slave raider and sold in Malaga, Spain. Having learned English, he escaped slavery and returned home in 1619. Teaching the colonists how to farm corn, where and how to catch fish, and how to make other necessary items, he was instrumental in the survival of the settlement for the first two years. Squanto and another guide sent by Massasoit in 1621, Hobomok, helped the colonists set up trading posts for furs and pay off the cost of establishing the colony. Chief Massasoit later formed a Peace Treaty with the Pilgrims. Upon growing a plentiful harvest in the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims gathered with Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit, and ninety other Wampanoag men in a celebration of food and feasting. This celebration is known today as the First Thanksgiving, and is still commemorated annually in downtown Plymouth with a parade and a reenactment. Since 1941, Thanksgiving has been observed as a federal holiday in the United States.

Plymouth Rock is one of Plymouth’s most famous attractions. Traditionally, the rock is said to be the disembarkation site of the Pilgrims. However, there is no historical evidence to support this belief. The first identification of Plymouth Rock as the actual landing site was made in 1741 by 94-year-old Thomas Faunce, whose father had arrived in Plymouth in 1623, three years after the arrival of the Mayflower. The rock is located roughly 650 feet (200 m) from where the initial settlement was thought to be built.

Plymouth Rock became very famous after its identification as the supposed landing site of the Pilgrims, and was subsequently moved to a location in Plymouth Center. During the process, the rock split in two. It was later moved to Pilgrim Hall and then to a location under a granite Victorian Canopy, where it was easily accessible and subject to souvenir hunters. The rock was finally moved back to its original location along the town’s waterfront in 1921. “Plymouth Rock”, a large boulder, now sits under the historic Plymouth Rock Portico. The Neo-Classical Revival structure was designed by the highly influential architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White, designers of the Boston Public Library, Rhode Island State House and the former Pennsylvania Station in New York City. Built in 1921 the existing granite portico replaced an earlier Gothic Revival style monument designed by Hammatt Billings (who also designed the National Monument to the Forefathers). In 1970 the Plymouth Rock Portico was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The rock and portico are the centerpiece of Pilgrim Memorial State Park. The park is the smallest park in the Massachusetts state forest and park system, but is also the most heavily visited.

Pilgrim Hall Museum, founded in 1824, is the oldest continually operating museum in the United States. It is located in Plymouth Center. Plymouth also features the National Monument to the Forefathers, which was dedicated in 1889. Standing at 81 feet (25 m) tall, it is the tallest free-standing solid granite monument in the United States. Other notable historical sites include the Jenney Grist Mill, a working replica of an original mill built in 1636, as well as the 1640 Richard Sparrow House, the oldest house still standing in Plymouth.

Kathy Kiefer

Florence Italy. Indian super wedding to be held in piazza Ognissanti

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Florence Italy. Indian super wedding to be held in piazza Ognissanti

On November 27 in piazza Ognissanti, Florence will welcome a fairytale Indian wedding.

213132_0006_3890880-013-U46000298221534USB-U46020485842319JKE-1224x916@CorriereFiorentino-Web-Firenze-593x443One hundred thousand euro for the use of public land, 20,000 in tourist taxes and another 58,000 for the restoration of the fountain in piazza Santa Croce, with an estimated return of 6 million euro for Florence, and 600 rooms already booked in five-star hotels throughout the city—these are the figures for an extravagant Indian wedding that will take place at the end of this month.

The groom is the son of an oil magnate based in Dubai and the happy couple have decided to get married beside the Arno.12305823_10153138743631363_1333871162_n

Councillor for economic development and tourism Giovanni Bettarini has stated that Florence has been confirmed as the wedding location, which comes shortly ahead of the Tuscan city hosting the Destination Wedding Planners Congress in 2016. Bettarini also stressed how important this wedding will be in promoting Florence as the ideal destination wedding location.

The City of Florence has released new regulations on the private use of piazzas, allowing the city to give better price quotes to engaged couples seeking to reserve public land for their weddings.

                                                                                                                                                               Pic from sure-com Web Agency Italy

On November 27, a temporary ban will be placed on the entrance to piazza Ognissanti as well as on the routes of the procession (lungarno Vespucci, via Melegnano and via Montebello).

Kathy Kiefer

 

Correlated:  http://alessandrosicurocomunication.com/2013/04/14/a-firenze-e-di-scena-il-matrimonio-dei-sogni/

MADE IN ITALY, AN INTRINSIC VALUE HARD TO IMITATE

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MADE IN ITALY AN INTRINSIC VALUE HARD TO IMITATE

 

I am an American journalist, but also a passionate woman of fashion, social and cultural behaviors. Yet I often wonder why many products fair well only in Italy, and not nearly as well abroad? Does the marketing loose something in translation to a new area?

Is it because certain lines and certain innovative ideas can only be found and created by Italian stylists?  Do they know something others can’t begin to understand or fathom?

It appears that it may be a cultural thing, or a matter of production.   Where I have found that many of the products that come from Italy are have a higher quality of workmanship/craftsmanship with a fine attention to detail and are handmade, that is sorely lacking with similar products found elsewhere. Many craftsmen from Italy have had their trade passed down through many family generations. And the results are excellent. It’s a slowly dying craft.

I see that all over the world craftsman that attempt try to mimic the high level of quality and the innovative concept of the Italian style & design, especially the Chinese, but with poor results.

I have seen that the latter invaded the markets with products and quantity but with low quality but especially with low intrinsic value of the product. Many have cut costs and used inferior materials in the production of their products in an effort to pass them off as something they are not.   The consumer will pay the price for a lesser quality in an effort to keep up with current fashion trends.

What is the intrinsic value of the product?

 

This parameter showed great Italian fashion houses, creating quality and brand reputation, especially the history that accompanies all the evolutionary process of a brand, adding to its value.

I have recently discovered a new Italian brand. 43°11° accessories, www.4311.it.   A fabulous product created to make a valuable, and yet at the same time, a trend accessory such as a bracelet or a chain. This type of product is well made, of the highest quality with fashion and stylistic design effect and refined.  This brand uses high quality Silver, precious stones such as amethyst, tiger eye, silver bracelets, leather, python, set in magnificent frames made in the urban Hipster style, in all their creations and designs. The resulting product stands out above the competition.

Kathy Kiefer