Chic little things

Among the things I miss during this still-disrupted period are the small accessories that puff a bit of chic into life. Not the fierce, hard-edged sort you see on the runway, but the grace notes that lift clothing from functional to pleasurable.

In the windows today, an assortment for a late-winter lift. They may not suit you climactically or aesthetically, so I'd appreciate hearing of  your picks, too. 

Merino bib

Worn over a turtleneck or shirt, this merino bib (in historic costume language, a tabard) adds warmth without bulk, and looks simultaneously classic and modern, which to me is a cornerstone of chic. Now sold out at Arket, but next week's windows will be filled with more of these.

Making a case for lipstick

I have a pile of pleasing lipsticks in ugly cases, the gift-with-purchase kind, but right now I would like   one in an elegant case I would not mind if someone saw. Charlotte Tilbury's hydrates—and the case... perfection! Shown, JK Magic, a rose-peachy-nude; price, about $CDN 48 at Sephora. 

The CT "Hot Lips" line comes in unusual and covetable cases, and you can pop in refills. How I miss the days when the best department-store lipsticks and compacts came in this case-plus-refill format, and at a price many times lower than Hermès' refillable leather one!

Jewelled earrings

I sipped the Netflix doc, "Franca: Chaos and Creation" about the late Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani,  like a fine amaro, watching in several sittings to make it last. Sozzani was many things I am not, physically: tiny, blonde, long-haired, model-slim. The personal signature I noticed watching her expressive face: jewelled retro or antique earrings with everything from the simplest shirt to an evening gown. 

You can find the look at any price point from modest to dizzying, and if you have Great-aunt Annabelle's Victorian garnet chandeliers, now is the time to wear them! In the window, a fine jewellery example.

Photo: BestOldJewelry

Antique Georgian earrings in citrine, pearl and enamel; at about $US 1, 450, a treat but also an heirloom. From Etsy seller BestOldJewelry, whose comprehensive description is better than I have seen from many well-known jewellers.


Sunnies control glare in any weather and some posit may even have a protective effect agains the coronavirus by reducing entry points for respiratory droplets. A proven effect: a sharp pair is the very keystone of chic.

I have worn budget knockoffs that held up for years and pricey ones that broke in a few months.Though there is a level of cheap that looks it,  high-street sunglasses can rival many designer models.  Which ones below cost twelves times as much as the other?

Top: Tom Ford "Andrew" sunglasses; now s/o but abut $300 on sale. (If you seek luxe brands, check The Outnet, which often has them at half-price.)

Bottom: Big tortoiseshell frames from Mango, sale price, $CDN 25.

A "Smallet"

Time was what a woman carried in her handbag was personal and prized, as cherished as her jewellery. She might have a monogrammed lighter, a slender gold pen, a mirror in a suede case.  Times change, and not only for lighters;  I have not seen coins in my wallet for a year, and carry but one moth-eaten $20 bill.  A cleaned-out wallet lightens the load—why not make it beautiful?

Photo: Lucrin of Geneva

Fuchsia leather small wallet by Lucrin of Geneva; price, about $US  95, with options for monogramming or custom stitching. Offered in an array of glorious colours and leather types.  Lucrin make larger wallets and bags, too, all delicious.

If a woman embeds small chic things into her life, does that make her chic? Possibly, provided she inhabits them naturally, and has an eye for what suits her. 

These items transmit "simple elegance with a dash of insouciance", which is as close as I can come to describing that rare butterfly, lepidopterans chicus, which alights at its pleasure, but is quite resistant to appearing on demand.


Laura J said…
Rather like this tabard! I recall knitting one in the early 70s!! This one is sleek and warm, and less casual than the ubiquitous puffy/fleece vest. Was just getting into wearing lipstick but mask wearing discourages that somewhat. Very important to me to put my earrings in and I’ve just started a project to wear my little worn jewelry, even if it’s for walking the dog!
Ms. Liz said…
Oh how I miss wearing lipstick! Right now I am drawn to small items of jewellery - a small bejewelled pin to wear on a casual sweater or a vintage Swarovski from my late mother's collection. I have been eyeing Fraas scarfs online as I seem to be looking for shots of colour to brighten my days during the "Stay at Home" order.

I do wear lipstick occaisionally at home - just to lift my mood.
Leslie M said…
The tabard made me laugh. It is beautiful and elevates the outfit in your window, but I would describe it as the grandmother of the dickey. My mother always had several to slip under a V-neck sweater. It is a practical solution without adding bulk, both short or long version. And, I had completely forgotten about lipstick refills. Yes! Lipstick and a beautiful mirror compact, please.

I now carry hand fans wherever I go. (No doubt, I will have hot flashes in my grave.) A fan can be quite chic to pull out of my bag and snap open. Bright colors are the best, and occasionally will color coordinate, but not required at all.
Melissa said…
There is no reason why we can't be joyous, comfortable and colourful at home and in lockdown. My daily wear during our fierce lockdown in Australia was to get into a warm pair of black tights, a dress that was often made of bamboo and so soft and cuddly, a Merino cardigan of a colour to set off the dress, and if that was a plain coloured dress, I would top it with a lovely scarf. Always some fabulous earrings, and at home my fuchsia lipstick. To go out for the essential shopping or exercise, I blot the lipstick so it doesn't get all over the mask, and put on some clear lip balm. There is still plenty of colour staining my lips should the mask be taken off for a drink or meal.
In the handbag, I have a beautiful slim cigarette case that I have repurposed as a pill holder. It perfectly holds heartburn tablets, headache tablets and anti-histamines so they don't end up pulverised in the bottom of the bag.
Elegant details.
Jane in London said…
That CT lipstick case is fab! I remember, as a child, my grandmother giving me one of her old Helena Rubenstein lipstick cases - it was a heavy, elegant gold-coloured number with a satisfyingly slow twisting mechanism.

Inside was a tiny stub of deep red lipstick which had a heady grown-up scent to it. I used to carry it around and take a sniff at it now and then, thrilling at the thought that I would one day be old enough to have such treasures of my own.

Of course by the time I was a teenager and could buy myself make up, all I wanted was a Mary Quant lipstick (colour "Posh Prune") in an inexpensive case with a plastic daisy stuck on it!

Jane in London
Duchesse said…
Laura J: Entirely different tone than the activewear vest, which is useful but not chic.

Ms Liz: I love pins and brooches and if shopping the secondhand market, really good ones are bargains compared to earrings and rings, because not everyone wants them. There, I have revealed a secret ;) I like a pin on a beret and sometimes wear one on the cuff of a shirt, instead of a bracelet.

Leslie M: Arket, makers of that tabard, also showed dickeys this winter. Cos sell them too, calling them a "shirt bib". (How is that a better term?) Funny how they vaulted over a generation, at least, but I always thought they were a good idea. A hand fan is a more interesting accessory than one of those batter-operated models.

Melissa: Oh, what a good idea for a beautiful cigarette case! And also thank you for the tip that turns lipstick into a lip stain.

Jane in London: When I researched this post, I found that the youngest generation of lipstick wearers are asking for refillable cases, for environmental reasons. Those heavy metal refillable cases! My mother would take out the used one, pop in a refill to carry in her bag, and keep the used one at home, digging out every bit of lipstick with a little brush. Children of the Depression carried the habits for life.
Ms. Liz said…
Duchesse - thank you so much for the suggestion of wearing a pin on a cuff. I love that idea. I have some tiny vintage pins (a pair) that came from a friend of my mother's. They would work so well on a cuff! Beautiful!
Anne At Large said…
My sister is a committed Hat Wearer and has taken to adding pins and brooches to many of her hats, it is a wonderful look on a knit cloche or the band of a summery straw Panama or fedora in warmer weather. I have been working more via phone and getting in the bad habit of removing one earring to talk and having it wander off somewhere so have been making a point of getting out lighter weight necklaces and rings so I can feel more “dressed” for work again lately. Scarves may be the next step in this progression. I love the refillable lipstick idea, I would much rather have a nice case to carry than some of the flimsy plastic ones available now.
Duchesse said…
Anne at Large: Are you using a headset for your phone? So much more confortable. Also, I find hook earrings much more comfortable for long calls. WIsh I could see your sister's pin collection. I've long said pins are an underpriced find in the secondhand jewellery market as many women don't quite know what to do with them besides put them on a lapel.

Here's an old post about wearing pins:
Bunny said…
I've made 3 various tabard type garments in my Covid isolation and really love them. I have also gotten a lot of compliments on them as well. My summer version is a simple white linen with deep hems similar to the one shown, great for wearing over tank tops, particularly in the freeaing supermarket. I then proceeded to a couple of wool versions for winter, on a Pendleton black watch plaid with broad extensions on the side ( original design ) that are great over turtlenecks and really spice them up. Here, here for tabards!

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