Monday, March 31, 2008

Be Squared

For me, the final stylish touch for a well-dressed men is the pocket square. It has become a signature of mine.

About four hundred years ago in my favorite city, Venice, a local lady made the first pocket square when she cut a piece of flax and decorated it with lace.

The trend spread throughout the courts of Europe, and the use of silk and linen in the breast of a suit jacket became a sign of wealth and royalty.

When you are searching for pocket squares, there is one cardinal rule: always look for a hand rolled edge. Whether the handkerchief is made out of linen, cotton, silk or damask, the hand-rolled edge is a sign of good craftsmanship. And remember that the seasonal rules of fashion apply to the fabric of pocket squares as well as clothing. Don’t wear linen before Memorial Day or after Labor day.

There are many ways to fold a pocket square. Here are three of my favorites:

The Puffed Fold: Pick up the handkerchief in the center. Using the thumb and forefinger of your other hand, gather the four points of the handkercheif and place in the pocket with puff coming out.

The Dunaway Fold: Pick up the handkerchief in the middle. With one hand hold the middle, and with the other hand gently gather the handkerchief closed. Using the hand that was holding the middle of the handkerchief, roll the top down. Carefully lift the points up and place the handkerchief in the pocket with the puff in front and the four points behind it.

The Four Points Fold: Pick up the handkerchief in the middle. Using your other hand, gather the handkerchief closed then fold the gathered corner down. Flip the pocket square over and place it in the pocket with four points sticking out. (This fold works best with a cotton or linen pocket square.)

Two stores where I love to buy pocket squares are:

Peter Elliot
1070 Madison Avenue
New York City

Jay Kos
475 Park Avenue
New York City

Friday, March 28, 2008


Those of you who know me know that I am on an eternal quest for sweets. Much to my tailor's dismay, I recently discovered One Girl Cookies, which makes a magical version of the Pennsylvania Dutch classic whoopie pies. Dawn Casale, owner of the little Brooklyn bakery, improved on the original with the perfect blend of consistency, texture and quality, and she's even made them bite-sized... so you don't feel as bad when you eat 10!

Photographed are my three favorite flavors : red velvet, classic chocolate and pumpkin.


One Girl Cookies

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How to Dress for a Party

I’m often asked to clarify how to interpret the dress codes written on an invitation. These styles evolved by custom over the years. When the codes are informative, they are very helpful. Here are “the classics.”

White Tie: Men wear black dinner jackets with tails and white pique vests with white pique bow ties. Women wear long dresses, without exception.

Formal or Black Tie: Men wear black dinner jackets (tuxedos) with black bow ties and, depending on what’s in fashion, a formal white shirt with a classic or wing collar. (Today, the trend is toward the former.) Women wear seasonally appropriate dresses rather than long gowns.

Black Tie Optional: This is a bad, bad idea. Guests feel either overdressed or underdressed.
Informal Attire: This category is the least understood. Men should wear a dark suit, white shirt, and tie, though in summer they may war a dark jacket and light linen trousers instead of a suit—but never a sport coat. Women should wear short dresses. (Wear sparkles only after 6 p.m.)

Cocktail Attire: A new category. Suits for men and fun, short dresses for women. (Sparkle as much as you want.)

Casual Attire: The only rule here is no tie for men.

A standard of dress is always required on a formal invitation. I personally think that categories like "festive dress" or “be creative” only serve to confuse.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The City of Lights

In all my travels, I have found only the French truly understand lighting. They know how to use it to create a mood that enchances an environment without overpowering it. They know how to light every landmark so as to inspire awe, and they understand the difference it makes when a landmark is lit from behind rather than from overhead. How great it is that the Eiffel tower sparkles in a magical show every hour for the entire city to enjoy!

Table Top Rules- A French Traditional Table Setting

Creating an elegant table setting is not a matter of using designer pieces with vermail or other expensive finishes. It is achieved through meticulous attention to detail, by using pristine, impeccably cleaned and shined service and linen, and by placing each piece properly, in the order in which it is used. Every item has a function, and a piece that is not to be used should not be part of the setting.

The forks are placed to the left of the plate. The dinner fork goes closest to the plate, to its left goes the fish fork (if there is to be a fish course) and to the left of that, the salad fork. But if the fish will be served before the salad, then put the fish fork furthest to the left.

To the right of the plate, lay the dinner knife, blade facing the plate rather than the guest to the right. If soup is being served, the soupspoon goes to the right of the knife.