Stylish notes on Fashion :: Inspiration, Chanel

I love pearls. I adore pearls. All sizes and shapes. I keep hoping one will miraculously show up in an oyster. I've eaten lots of oysters lately, but alas no pearls. I'm not really a single strand of pearls (as in necklace) kind of a girl, but I prefer to wear them in a more dramatic way. The bigger the better. Fortunately for my budget there are some great impostors out there. I'll pile necklace after necklace on - mixing both real and fake... I'll do the same with bracelets and wrap long strands of faux necklaces around my wrists to create a dramatic piling effect. I love pearl buttons, and with those as well, the bigger the better, I say. Those who know me best might say that my oversized pearl earrings are my signature style. I wear them with everything from ripped jeans to black tie. The pearl is sophisticated and polished. It's also a lot of fun - and I think jewelry and fashion should be fun. (Image to the right via Chanel)

I fantasize over the fabulous pieces that come out of the House of Chanel - the clothes and the jewels. But that's what it all is... it's a fantasy. I've been lucky in that I have inherited from my grandmother the ability to create the look for less. It's less the piece of jewelry or the article of clothing than how it is worn and paired. In that sense my grandmother was the master of deception. She may have looked as though she was entirely dressed in classic Chanel, but I assure you that she was not. It's actually easier to do nowadays with so many designers and brands drawing inspiration from the major design houses. I certainly like it and if I was one of those designers, I'd be extremely honored. Chanel, while very much my style is not my budget. (Above and below images via Athens Street Style.)

I adore everything from the above picture, from the bag - Hermes - to the coat with the over-sized pearl-like buttons, to the double pearl ring - Chanel. Can someone please tell me who makes this amazing vest/coat?!!

Last week I was out shopping with my daughter and stumbled across a fun pearl ring. I wasn't looking for it, but perhaps it was looking for me? With a big weekend ahead of me in New York I picked up the ring knowing it would be perfect for a couple of the dressier events I would be attending. It wasn't until I tried it on that I saw how similar it was to Chanel's when worn on a finger. Because the ring I got is adjustable I can wear it on several fingers.

I posted the below photo (taken with my iPhone 4S) on Instagram and Facebook and was deluged with likes and comments... One person even commented saying that she adored the Chanel ring! I simply shared the photograph with the thought that every cocktail ring should be accompanied by a cocktail. Don't you think?

I give away trade secrets all the time. And I suppose I shouldn't but I do. Now, you could have the said Chanel ring for a mere $1,000 USD, OR you could head over to Zara and pick up this beauty for $19.95!

Side by side do these rings look alike? Not exactly, but scroll back up and look at our fingers. Not bad, I say, especially at a savings of over $975!  

If Chanel is your thing, click here to see the ring and the rest of the collection. The rest of you should hop on over to Zara's website! 

Pearls of Wisdom :: A Stylish Lesson

Breakfast at Tiffany's
via Piccsy

I've always been a pearl girl. In college I'd wear my necklace everywhere and with everything. In retrospect I think it looked silly with workout wear, but paired perfectly with a little cardigan or even the oversized Boston College sweatshirt (not mine!) that I coveted. I wore them with my Laura Ashley dresses and skirts, my Bennetton rugby, or little cardigans and jeans. Pearls went with little pumps, my LLBean mocasins and most especially my Tretorns! My style has changed, evolved and grown since those days but I still relish my pearls. I have the same pearls I had in college and many, many more. I am happy to, and love to mix them all up. I love real and faux, large and small... long and short. In my mind, I love to play with them, the more the merrier. They complete an outfit. They can polish off a simple sweater and jeans, they can add pizzaz to a little black dress. I believe you can never have too many. I believe that you can wear them all day, and into the night!

Pearls are the only valuable piece of jewelry that comes neither from an expensive piece of metal or precious stone. Pearls are the result of a biological process - The oyster's way of protecting itself from foreign substances. Oysters are not the only type of mollusk that can produce pearls. Clams and mussels can also produce pearls, but this is much rarer in occurrence. As the oyster grows its shell must grow too. The mantle is an organ that produces the oyster's shell, using minerals from the oyster's food. Inside the shell lies the nacre which is created by the mantle and lines the inside of the shell. A pearl starts to form when a foreign  substance seeps into the oyster, irritating the mantle. It is a completely natural occurance. To simplify, this is much like an oyster getting a splinter! As the oyster naturally protects itself from this foreign matter, the irritant becomes layered by the same substance that is used to create the shell, thus creating what will eventually become a pearl! 

Pearls that occur and are harvested naturally are incredibly rare and incredibly expensive, unattainable by most financially. The cultured pearl, however, was then created, making these unique gems less rare and more affordable.

Following is a very condensed history lesson on the cultured pearl that I've shortened and adapted via PBS's Nova.

If you're savvy about the pearl you most likely know of Mikimoto. Kokichi Mikimoto, the son of a noodle maker, had a dream and together with his wife, Ume, they set about to do what no one else had done—entice oysters to produce round pearls on demand. 

In 1907 Mise received a patent for his grafting needle. When Nishikawa applied for a patent for nucleating, he realized that he and Mise had discovered the same thing. In a compromise, the pair signed an agreement uniting their common discovery as the Mise-Nishikawa method. This remains, today, the premier method of pearl culturing. In 1896 Mikimoto had received a patent for producing hemispherical pearls, or mabes, followed by a 1908 patent for culturing in mantle tissue. 
But he could not use the Mise-Nishikawa method without invalidating his own patents. He had to alter his own patents and then created one to cover a technique that would create round pearls. This patent was granted in 1916, and with this Mikimoto created a formula so successfful that he bought the rights to the Mise-Niskikawa method. Those names are now left to be found in history books, while his own remains synonymous with the elegant and cultured pearl. 
Of course when we think of the pearl we immediately think of the iconic photograph Audrey Hepburn in front of the Tiffany & Co. window in the classic, timeless Breakfast at Tiffany's. Yesterday's style-setters and socialites made them popular and wore them with grace and dignity.
Audrey Hepburn Classic Beauty! I love her eye makeup, I love the color of her lips, her flawless makeup, the way the contour of her eye brows frame her eyes, I love her pearls and her tiara, the perfect size of her earrings, the long black gloves and little black dress.  Everything looks so effortless but the sum of it all spells classic beauty.

Love those pearls

Pearls have become synonymous with preppy fashion and culture.

via The Pink Peonies

via Tumblr

And of course we think of Chanel, who is bringing the pearl back into haute couture with a sophisticated and playful vengeance.

#Chanel Spring/Summer RTW 2013  #Pearls # Details
via Chanel,
Spring/Summer 2013

#Chanel Spring 2013 RTW #Pearls #Details
via Chanel,
Spring/Summer 2013

Chanel Spring 2013 - Details
via Chanel,
Spring/Summer 2013

Chanel ss13
via Chanel,
Spring/Summer 2013

CHANEL SPRING 2013      Chanel SS 2013
via Chanel,
Spring/Summer 2013

And, then there are the rest of us... with Chanel tastes and perhaps Target budgets... fear not, pearls can be worn with everything these days. They complete an outfit and bring it to another level.

via Patterson Maker

via Tumblr

via Tumblr

and a few of yours truly...

Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

This picture above is one of my absolute favorites!

Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

I love how I'm pouring the Coupe de Champagne (recipe here) without even looking down, and without even spilling... Impressive, no?!

Me above, self portait in Newport via Instagram in my trademark large pear earrings!

Have a fabulous Tuesday and
put your pearls on!



First white jeans of the season!

I had to do it... I just had to do it! As temperatures soared into the 70s I simply had to be able to dress in a manner that reflected this Springtime weather! The white jeans have come out of hibernation! First they were worn to meetings with the same kitten-heeled mules, a little white T-shirt, a tidy black blazer, my trademark over-sized pearl earrings and this, my new favorite red bag (Maggie Leather Tote) from JmcLaughlin for a pop of color! Here I am headed out for the evening. I swapped out the white shirt for a black, spaghetti-strapped tank and cashmere sweater.  I don't think this is too summery at all!

Are you ready to don your whites?



What's your style?

I most definitely have my own unique sense of style. I like comfort and elegance. I like class and sophistication with a dash of whimsy. I am always put together but I don't take myself too seriously... this season I am mad about the animal print and the faux furs. I've always loved a splash of color. In the daytime I much prefer to dress up a pair of jeans. In the evening a little cocktail dress that I can bejewel is fantastic. You'll notice on each of my looks you'll see pearls in some form. I wear some sort of pearls every day. Everysingleday! I don't think you need a lot of money to have style and grace, and there's nothing quite like the thrill of finding my look for less. My look can be very expensive you see, and I don't even have the budget to look at my look, let alone wear it! So recently I rediscovered Polyvore and oh what fun I have been having. It's like Christmas has come early this year! I've created some fun outfits that I would wear right this very moment if I could. In creating them I've spared no dime. You'll see Christian Louboutain shoes next to a $20 Top Shop ring. That's my style! If only these URL delights would magically appear IRL... In the meantime, I'll go back to being 10 and pretend that I am a stylist and a fashion designer in my pastel bedroom... My 13 year old even has her own a Polyvore account!

Below are a couple of outfits I created over the weekend. These are, and you'll agree if you know me IRL, unequivocally, completely, positively, me!

How would you describe my sense of style?

A splash of red...

Animal Instincts...

Black and Cheetah...

Leather and Pearls...

Black & White...

How would you describe my style?
How would you describe your style?

Jessica xoxo

A Prep School 101 Summer

I discovered Jennifer's blog, Prep School 101, about a year ago. It quickly grew to be one of my favorites.  I was like a kid in a (Preppy) candy store as I drooled over her beautiful photographs of lavish and opulent goodies that reflected a fun and preppy lifestyle. I was saddened, however, when last fall she decided to close her blog so that she could concentrate more on her business Sky Blue Events. While I was happy (for her!) that her business was growing successfully, and while I followed her business blog I missed Prep School 101 terribly. I told her so and nagged her a few dozen times, easily, to bring back the other blog. We communicated through the year, via emails and Twitter and became good friends. I am a staunch supporter of her projects as she is of mine. I was thrilled when a couple of months ago she told me that she was bringing Prep School 101 back to life! So, please visit her blog and welcome her back after you read her guest post!

In the spirit of “the more things change, the more things stay the same,” I bring you a list of my summer essentials, many of which I’m truly grateful do not change year after year (or season after season, for that matter). After all, a classic is a classic is a classic.

The obvious preppy favorites: 

(1) Seersucker

(2) Aviators

(3) Driving loafers

(4) Pearl earrings

(5) Lacoste polos

(6) Lilly dresses

(7) G&Ts and garden parties

(8) Fitzgerald, Hemingway

(9) Rosebud Salve

(10) Jack Rogers

This summer’s new favorite and frothy additions:

(1) Tad Friend’s Cheerful Money: Me, My Family and the last Days of WASP Splendor

(2)  Kiel James Patrick bracelets, preferably in madras.

(3) True Prep by Lisa Birnbaum. I scored an advance copy since these will be in the goody bags at a party my company is hosting in September. If you’re on the East Coast and feel like a delightful trip to Baltimore for an end of the summer celebration on the water, please come to our Oxfords & Oysters soiree (details on my company blog:

Come say hello....I’ll be the one wearing some combination of the above listed items.

Above, the beautiful Jennifer in Lilly, then and now!

Your Never Fully Dressed Without Your Pearls

I've been drawn to pearls for as long as I can remember. My Birthday is in June. My Birthstone is the pearl. Simple, stylish and elegant. They can be small and understated or big and bold. But they're never showy and never loud and never brash as diamonds can be. I'm a pearl girl through and through. I have a pair of diamond stud earrings that I wear from time to time. My engagement and wedding rings are diamond. Stunning and brilliant and classic in style. But had the Pearl been a bit heartier able to withstand what my hands do and go through I would have chosen a pearl ring for certain. As it is my hands are busy and clumsy and often I trade the brilliant diamonds for my two simple gold bands that cannot be bent and damaged. Back to the pearls...

I got my first pair of pearl earrings when I was 13. My paternal grandmother gave them to me for my Birthday. I lost one a few years later and was devastated and ashamed to tell anyone so I replaced it with a cheapie, reproduction set. During my college years I was never without my pearl earrings or necklace. Not real. My mother would not let me bring real ones to school. And she was wise!

After I graduated from college my love of the pearl remained. I wore my single strand necklace and earrings all over the place. Even to the gym!

I wanted more and on a meager, newly-grad, publishing income I could only afford costume jewelry. And this is where my collection of bigger, bolder and funner pearls grew. I could use these big and fun necklaces to dress up a pair of jeans or I could wear them with a Little Black Dress. For many years I lived in Greenwich, Connecticut right off the Avenue, THE place for shopping and dining. There was a Carolee Store right around the corner of my apartment. Me in that store was like a little child in a candy store. It was heaven. One bauble was more divine than the next. (Carolee also designed costume jewelry for Ralph Lauren.) And so my collection of costume pearls grew and flourished.

To this day I wear them all. Sometimes one piece on its own, and other-times I mix pieces, large and small, real and faux. Pearls are my passion!

When I met my husband, at the end of my 20s, I told him the story of my lost pearls. When I was 29, just before we married, he replaced my pearl earrings with a lovely pair of Mikimotos. I wear these the most to this day. A couple of years later he gave me a pair of black pearls, also Mikimoto.

I got married 2 weeks after I turned 30. My Carolee pearls took center stage. The necklace is double stranded. I was wearing them one day before the wedding and my Jolie Grandmere suggested I twist them. I did, and a whole new necklace was born!  La Grandmere kept complimenting this set of faux pearls. She truly adored them. Even though she could have afforded the real thing many times over, I handed them over to her after I was married. So was so touched and so thankful and so grateful!

Here I am in my bedroom in Newport (like the old Laura Ashley border around the windows? So very 80s! It has since been removed.) I'm modeling the dress that I designed with my Jolie Grandmere who was over from Europe for the Grande Fete! We hired a local and very talented dress-maker to bring our drawing to life. More pearls adorn the dress. Over-sized pearl buttons on the over-sized cuffs and collar. The dress was made of silk and a Dotted-Swiss. My white Dotted-Swiss sash was lined in a buttercup colored silk. The dress was designed to wear with pearls, naturally!  What do you think? Project Runway worthy?


Newly married, Bellini in hand ... naturally!



I just love this photo... Pearls and Girlfriends are the perfect combination!

Pearls (and sash) take Center Stage... 
We danced to the Lester Lanin Orchestra, the first dance was Someone To Watch Over Me

After the festivities were over -- they lasted several days -- my grandmother headed back to her home in Oxfordshire and my lovely husband and I headed off to honeymoon in Paris and then to reconnect with my grandparents and attend the Championships at Wimbledon where saw almost no tennis as most of the days were spent in the Members Enclosure drinking Pimms, sheltered from the pouring rain!

After 2 weeks of bliss I returned home to the States and our house in Greenwich. But something was missing. My grandmother had my necklace. Without it I was lost and naked despite all the other pearls I owned. I headed over to Carolee to find a replacement. I was not able to find the same one but found one that was even bigger and equally as fun and festive. (It's the one I wore my night out with Tamara.) As much as I loved my new Jawbreaker-sized baubles, I missed my other one...

When I was in my mid-30s, La Jolie Grandmere was diagnosed with Leukemia, Multiple Myeloma. They departed, seemingly overnight, to seek treatment and the rest of their lives in the States. Leaving everything behind my grandparents left their home, their friends and all their belongings behind in the UK. My mother was given the arduous task of sorting through all the goods. Which ones to keep and ship to the States, which to donate. Which to toss. Appraisers were brought over to assess her belongings. My mother was in England for over a fortnight sorting and packing, sorting and packing.  As packages arrived from overseas, some large containing pieces of furniture, silver and assorted antiques, smaller packages arrived as well. Once back in Newport my mother sorted through all the treasures and created more boxes. Boxes for me.

One day, a large shipment of boxes came for me. We were living in Fairfield at the time. I sifted through piles and piles, unwrapping photographs and paintings and silver. In one box, in a smallish manila envelope, I felt something rather lumpy. I took out the tissue paper from within to reveal a very well taken care of double stranded pearl necklace. It was the necklace I had given her! A note inside in her handwriting read something like, on loan from Jessica. The necklace holds an even more special place in my heart now.