Saturday, August 28, 2010


This is the first in a periodic series of essays on women I have encountered who have lit a style candle for me....


One fall, I helped my sister pack her belongings into a small Volkswagon for a trip to college for her senior year. Because she was going to be living off campus in an apartment, I was interested to see her new home and roommate.

A smiling young woman delightfully charged towards us as our VW pulled into the parking lot of what turned out to be my sister's standard issue flat. Beth had a charming smile and waves of auburn hair shorn in a becoming short hairstyle. She was wearing white socks with a pair of Ked's and I thought it made her look romantic and girlish with jean cut-off shorts and cotton bastiste camisole top. She looked like a little China doll with her apple red lipgloss, and greeted us warmly as we were led into my sister's new living quarters.

I became enchanted immediately by a sweet floral scent and noticed that Beth had placed baskets and containers all over the apartment filled with something I was unfamiliar with - a delicious rose potpourri. I knew what potpourri was but I had never seen it actually used before. The scent was delicate and rare and permeated the apartment like a sunbeam, giving everything a graceful feeling. Soon it became clear to me that Beth was the most feminine woman of my own age that I had met up until that point in time.

We were shown the bedroom Beth had selected for herself, which was thoughtfully, the smaller room. It was already set up and decorated as if she had been occupying it for years. There was a bed with a brass head and foot board, a few well-loved petite wooden dressers, a desk, and a low bookshelf. The bookshelf contained the complete novels of Jane Austen interspersed with dried flowers and glass containers of ribbons and buttons. The bed was fully dressed in white lace, like a bride in all her wedding finery. Lace runners covered the dressers and on top were small china dishes holding bits and bobs of jewelry, a silver comb, a few lovely hair accessories, a crystal perfume bottle. A cup of freshly made tea was on the nightstand in a delicate bone china cup and saucer, a paperback book open on the bed. I had never seen such feminity, such fluff and frippery, such fun! Drapped quiety in waiting across the brass footboard was a beige silk camisole with lace cutouts shaped like shells across the top and matching silk tap pants. This was the late 70's, when most young women were still wearing unisex army jackets, frayed jeans, and the no-makeup look. Beth had clearly embraced another way of being in the world and I was her rapt and watchful student, spellbound.....


  1. I so enjoyed your descriptive writing of Beth, thank you. How lucky you were to peek into her bedroom to see how she had decorated it. I would love to hear how she influenced your style if at all. Is there where your romantic dreaming started?

  2. Yes Fiona, it was. In high school, I was a clone of every other girl: long straight middle parted hair, dressing devoid of feminine touches to look like the guys, etc. Beth introduced me to another way. She was feminine and fun and made me long for a romantic nightgown, china teacups, etc. She believed in taking care of oneself long before it was popular. She cared more about pleasing herself than a man (a very daring concept back then!). She was the first acquaintance that changed me. There will be more I will write about soon: bosses, friends, etc.