the family jewels

When Sarah Jessica Parker strutted down the streets of New York as Carrie, aside from what would happen with her latest relationship, I mostly wanted to see which absurdly ridiculous thing they were going to dress her in next.  There was of course, the enormous flower pin, which grew bigger and more hideous each episode, the newsboy cap with hot pants and a trench coat, and of course, the nod to 80s ghetto nameplate and leather tops.  Ew.  She pulled it together in the final season, even if she did look a bit Minnie Mouse.  She looked enchanting. Here’s the thing though: women dress for other women.

GirlsathermesI have, for example, an Anya Hindmarch snakeskin handbag (shown in this photo from forever ago… oh how I miss parties with Monique at Hermes!), adored by me and coveted by other women. Men, all of them, every single one, hate it.  Every man I’ve ever dated has suggested I leave it at home during that whole, “so, how do I look?” moment.  They squint and say, “Don’t you have another bag?”
To which I respond, “Yes, several, but men just don’t get snakeskin.”  They also don’t understand big jewelry.  I like a necklace that makes a statement. 

When I graduated high school, my mother gave me a very thin gold necklace with a solitaire diamond floating in the middle.  And I loved it, how thin it was, delicate, like it belonged on someone thin.  I liked it in mirrors, the way the diamond dropped in between my collarbones.  My mother also wore an identical one, which I’d always wanted.  When Lea graduated, she also got the matching necklace, so now the three of us have it.  If I have girls, they’ll each get one, too. It makes me feel special when I wear it, like I belong to a family, even though we’re spread thin across this fat country. 

Now, though, I tend to wear bigger pieces.  Dress simply, then pump it up with a chunky statement of a necklace.  That’s why I wear the cameo-inspired necklaces I found at my aunt’s store, on Long Island, years ago.  Each time I wear them, people ask if they’re estate pieces.  They don’t run in the family, and if I knew where to buy them now, I’d buy more for my friends.  While on book tour in San Francisco, I was in the mood to shop neighborhoods, but not for clothes.  So instead, I bought what would fit: shoes and jewels.  Pumas and a peacock plume.  I purchased the necklace at Jacqueline Talbot, a Hayes Street store in SF.  The designer, I was told, is based in New York.  As for the red leather bracelet with gold chain link, it’s one of my favorites, purchased for me by a close girlfriend from Hermes. She was actually in Spain and bought me a bangle, but when I tried it on, it was way too big and didn’t suit me.  So with her permission, I exchanged it for the red cuff, which I wear while carrying my red shoulder bag, the one I’d purchased in Venice.  I do all my luxury shopping while abroad.  I stock up on Hermes scarves and Gucci goods, then I find independent stores and spend some more.  I haven’t been abroad in forever, which is a good thing for my finances and in turn, my marriage.

All the men I know hate my big necklaces and always encourage me to stick with something simple instead.  I ignore them though.  Sometimes a woman just knows.  Though I haven’t worn a scarf in way too long (I plan to frame two of them for the nursery) at least there’s large garish jewels still in the family.



  1. A few months back, Kate Spade was having a huge sample sale and the other ladies in my office and I were obsessing about what to get etc. I even posted about it on my site and had the internet obsessed and purchasing like crazy as well. The men though? didn't.give.a.shit. And questioned why anyone would be excited about spending only $80 on a Kate Spade bag. We had to explain that it's because other women would see the bag and fawn all over it. I don't care what men think about my bag, but I want women to know that I have a hot Kate Spade bag or that my shoes are from Stuart Weitzman etc.

    Obnoxious, yes. But it's just the reality of how (many) women are.

  2. AMEN, sister. One of the last real enjoyments of my all too bland life these days is an excuse to experiment with a little fashion. Don't let 'em break you… LOVING your accessory choices – always.

  3. yes women totallllllly dress for other women. Men have to learn to understand that and women have to stop kidding themselves. You see that women can attract men with an 8$ top from Strawberry instead of suffering over the merits of the brand-names they buy instead.

    Thanks for posting about jewelry, it is such a personal thing, I feel. One's taste in jewelry. My friends tend to think I'm not so into it but in truth I am just super-selective. I don't like to wear tons of small pieces just to wear them.
    thanks for sharing about your great necklaces too Stephanie!
    I also think with your fantastically long, voluminous hair you can pull off huge earrings any day of the week….

  4. I bought my Anya Hindmarch bag 2 years ago while running errands in SoHo on sale for $270. I have never seen another person carrying the same bag–it goes with everything. Has the AH ribbon pattern and lots of great details. Exquisite, unusual, and understated–how I *try* to dress.

  5. Hmmm, I'm not sure I fully grasp the entire concept either. I will say, however, that the Jewish women I have dated usually wear the largest hunks of jewelry … or more of them than the others I have dated. I have not yet figured out the correlation, except it often mirrors their respective mother's jewelry habits. Man, I tried to think of so many ways to make that sound less … stereotyping. It really is just something I've noticed.

  6. It's like you read my mind: I was going to comment on your last post about that peacock necklace you were wearing! It's awesome!

    The bigger the better, in my opinion. If nothing else, the piece makes for great conversation.

  7. Stephanie, girl you have great style. I love your fashion choices. On top of that you are very photogenic. In all the pictures I have seen on your site you always kind of "beam" and just stand out in a very good way!

  8. You hit on something interesting there, about how men don't get women's fashion. (Obviously I'm waaay overgeneralizing, so don't be offended, fashion-conscious men.) But I don't really get it either, frankly. I mean, I can appreciate another woman's fabulous bag or shoes, but I have no idea how to put a look together for myself–and women are expected to know these things! I'm not that sad about it, because I honestly just don't want to work that hard or spend that much money, but I never had a fashion role model, and I feel wistful when other women talk about sharing jewelry and clothes and accessories with their mothers and sisters and friends. Am I the only one?

    Is style (understanding that style and fashion are different things) nature or nurture? Who were your style/fashion role models, Stephanie? What contributed to your sense of style?

    Remedial though I am, I DO have this pair of fabulous (truly) glasses, and a number of women and gay men have complimented me on them, but straight men? Nope. Funny to think that while I feel like I kick ass in my funky glasses straight men might be squinting and cocking their head sideways in confusion.

  9. i think i do mirror my mother's jewelry styles, and she loves flashy stuff. but i'm not jewish, but she's s. american so that may be por que.

  10. I believe that the Girls Walk By Dressed up For Each other is from Van Morrison's Wild Night, and not Pretty Woman. But I agree that's what women do.

  11. I too love big necklaces! I get it honestly from my mother. As I sit here and type this I realize that I have on one of my mothers pieces I borrowed 6 monthes ago and have yet to return.
    I always buy necklaces here and there. Regardless if I have anything to wear them with. Sooner or later I always have the oppurtunity to wear them.
    My boyfriend never tells me he likes my necklaces, however, he does comment on them – like, "those beads look like peanuts" or "how hard is it to carry around those boulders around your neck all day?". I'm sure you get what I mean. I much rather him tell me he doesn't like them.
    So I am feeling you on the jumbo necklaces. Keep preaching it sister!

  12. "I do all my luxury shopping while abroad."- Abroad, what- Italy, Spain, London? Dude, you haven't shopped "abroad" until you've haggled with silk vendors in Hanoi or admired the work of mudcloth artisans in Bamako. That's true luxury. Hermes is hermes is hermes.

  13. Ha ha! I was just going to comment on the last entry asking about the peacock necklace! It looked so beautiful on you! Thanks for the link!

  14. It's like you read my mind. Yesterday I was loving both your necklaces in your pictures, and now you've clued me in to your obsession! I'm a 'big necklace girl' myself, and love to see other women who love them too!
    And with the cleavage you've got going, girl, keep wearing 'em!

  15. You're preaching to the choir here. I love big jewelery. Some of my favorite stuff is from Union Square flea market. Go figure. Mostly from the African tradesmen. Do they still have that flea market? I still wear my bracelets with great pride. When I wear one someone will usually ask where I got it from. I have a whole drawer full of scarves. I was never without one when living in NY. They were a necessity on the subway. Masking the horrible smells of b.o., poop and bad breath. I can't remember the last time I wore one. I miss NY.

  16. Random thoughts while reading this post:
    -I got so frustrated with my guy's reactions on the 'how do I look' question, that I bought a huge mirror – now I decide for myself, don't bother to check with him.
    -Also, when I go out, I never check out the guys (I got a great one, so why bother), but I'm always checking out other women: what they're wearing, especially shoes.
    -Although I really don't like the snakeskin bag, I do love-love-love the peacock jewellery. And am still on the lookout for my very own leather Hermès bracelet :)

  17. I agree, "abroad"– as pretentious as it sounds, does not just Rome, Paris, Milan, Madrid, etc., make.
    it has to be something fierce. Something from Malawi (and not a baby), something from Vietnam, something from Uzbekistan.
    This gives true color. Your travels define you.

  18. It's so funny. I wonder if Noisette realizes every time she comments people see who she is? As much as she gripes and moans about the things SK says, I know everyone rolls their eyes and says "assh*le" when they read Noisette's comments.

    If you read what SK said- " I haven’t been abroad in forever…". She was correct in refering to overseas as abroad. She wasn't pretentious or elitist IN FACT she wasn't regaling about her travels. Looking for reasons to be critical is ugly. Hello ugly!

  19. Why, hello, Tom! Thanks for the thoughts. I actually bit my tongue (typing fingers?) on this post. "oh how I miss parties with Monique at Hermes!" kind of speaks for itself, dontcha think?
    My issue, although I pointed it out in a veiled manner (your thoughtful response inspired me to be more forthcoming) is that Stephanie implies worldliness with her "I do all my luxury shopping abroad" or whatever, when, as far as I can tell from this blog (correct me if I'm wrong, Stephanie), her "abroad" encompasses Western Europe. Not that everyone has to travel to more far-flung destinations, or is lucky enough to do so, but a statement like that implies a knowledge of foreign culture (or at least of shopping in foreign places) that I would argue the author does not have.
    I wasn't really looking for a reason to be critical- the reason kind of slapped me in the face. Again, though, thanks for your constructive response.
    "I wonder if Noisette realizes every time she comments people see who she is?" Ha ha. Priceless.

  20. Is my husband the only one who loves cheesy streetwalker clothes? He would be happy if I dressed in acid wash cutoffs and a bodysuit every time. And shirts with bizarre cut outs. So no, I don't dress for him!

  21. I think Noisette's comments can be quite enlightening.
    Tom YOU are ugly.
    This is a forum and you know what- if Stephanie chooses to say something, and chooses to let others comment, then that is what happens.

    I'm sorry but it did come off as somewhat pretentious. Especially that your friend gave you a $400.00 or > bracelet. I want friends like that.

    FROM STEPHANIE: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? I'm pretentious for having generous friends? I buy foreign goods abroad because they're usually cheaper there, when the US dollar is strong. And holy christ, you have to be kidding. I love a great flea market as much as the next girl, but the last thing I'm going to do is talk about the bargains I've discovered in third-world countries. Talk about affected! Oh, and please spare me… anyone who feels the need to chime in telling me what exactly makes me pretentious can go scratch. It's not getting posted here. Now, have a loverly day.

  22. So your point is Stephanie having a friend who works someplace that sells luxury goods is pretentious? Limited and silly. Thanks for replying. I think the saying is "digging your own grave…".

    Snark Attack, we all know why you don't have friends. Perhaps you do as well.

  23. Y'all all shut up. I'm trying to figure out what page of the Neiman Marcus Holiday catalogue the imported faux-orphan babies are on. I'm going to keep one in my oversized Chanel purse with the tied Hermes scarf a-fluttering, right next to Mootsie, my designer chihuahua. So quit your bickering, because it's important to hop on this trend, oops, I mean "help a child", A.S.A.P.

  24. Ah, third-world "bargains." I actually paid quite a bit of money for a hand-tailored silk suit in Hanoi that is so beautiful, I am scared to wear it. I wasn't talking bargains (although I can see where you'd get that from my "haggled with silk vendors"- fair enough), I was talking clothing of a truly unique quality, made by local artisans. That's luxury. In my humble opinion.

  25. Hmm. My 2 cents seem to have been devoured en route. So to recap: While you, Hazelnut, may find "haggling" to be "true luxury", it's a matter of survival for those silk vendors and mudcloth artisans. A Hermes shopper has the luxury of knowing that the clerk waiting on her/him has enough to eat. I checked out a couple of your blog entries, Hazel. You are quite full of shite (to use a SKism). You preach a good game about racism, economics, etc., but if the colonial irony of American Lawyer Lady haggling with the quaint 3rd world locals isn't evident to you, perhaps you need a dose of irony supplements.

    Hazel does seem to have a friend in commentor "lesbie" who states: "Your travels define you." Well, shit. I thought one was defined by one's music. No, I meant shoes. Wait, maybe it was one's commenter name: "Lesbie" pretty much sucks. Too much of a wuss to just call yourself Dyke?

  26. I love that my 4-year-old son loves when I dress "pretty." We were going to a 5-year-old's pool party recently and he went into my closet and picked out pink flowery high-heel mules and a red brocade sheath dress for me to wear. I explained I might be a little overdressed for the occassion but on his insistence I changed out of my jeans for a colorful bohemian skirt.

  27. Hmm. I like Florence and "shopping abroad" for handbags like anyone else, but I must be honest and say that sometimes the blogs author's way of stating things comes off a bit, well.. "toity." Maybe she didn't mean it quite the way it sounded? Not sure. On my blog, I preferred to call my shopping experience in Florence a "Firenze Handbag Firenzy." But maybe that's how us low-end bloggers write. (And might also explain why no one offers us book deals?) ;)

    Of course I realize I am in the minority here.

    Thank you Stephanie for printing comments that aren't always in support of the posts.

    P.S. Noistette: I actually HAVE bought mudcloths (and Dogon doors) in Bamako, Mali. My dad was stationed in West Africa as a diplomat.

  28. Go Scratch! I thought that comment only belonged to me and my friends in long island… i guess it has spread!
    Love it…

  29. Wait, Stephanie has a FRIEND who works in luxury? I don't think she said that when she said "oh parties at Hermes with Monique"…
    I guess it's her friend?

    I would clarify that to all the Hermes hounds, including myself. I want a bracelet from there!
    I'd mug a nun for one!

  30. I once read in an editorial in Allure magazine that women mostly do things for other women, because women see beauty as a sign of power. You're walking around with a Prada bag and women are automatically going to envy you. The gorgeous hair, the gorgeous nails…Men appreciate it, yes; but they'd just as well appreciate the home-dye than the $80 cut you just had to have. Is it worth it?

    Hell yes.

  31. I'm so impressed that your words continually take us on these little rides to different places of your life. Posts like these – where you tie in what is special to you – are my fave.

    Looking back, maybe I should have written you a personal email; this is getting gushy. ;)

  32. Ah, slow days at work…
    Barbara E., I must say, and I am being genuine, that that is the best response to one of my comments that I have read. You didn't call me "stupid" or "jealous," but responded substantively and called me on some bad comment-writing. Bravo.
    I was actually living in Africa doing a Master's degree, and in Vietnam with my law school class studying the role of women in the commodity market, when the events I alluded to took place. However, I see your point: "haggling with silk vendors" sounds condescending, absolutely. I was going for silly alliteration and didn't take my tone into account. Mea culpa.

  33. Absolutely women with style dress for other women b/c it's the women who can appreciate it. You can have a woman dressed incredibly stylishly (i.e. Stephanie) with her own style, but not in an in your face kind of way, and a woman next to her dressed in a shirt that's too short and a top that is too tight with no style of her own (other than to dress the part of slutty)and the guys everytime will focus on the girl with the tacky outfit.

  34. Stephanie, your arms look really skinny in this picture. going back to your previous post about skinny arms, fearing excess fat…i think you look much healthier w/ "fuller" arms and a vibrant glow. seriously.

  35. Oooooh I just love a good blog fight! You are both stupid for even reading any deeper into any of these comments. Whatever! Don't forget the reason why we are here reading…to live vicariously..somewhat and to be entertained. Everyone is entitled to their own level of taste, luxury what have you. Mind your own business if you can't be nice.

  36. eck. I hated that huge flower SJP wore. I didn't like a lot of her clothes and could never understand why the girl was the "fashion icon" she was. Kiss ass body though. Skinny with boobs….allegedly natrually (both the skinny and the boobs.) Charlotte wore much better clothes, in my opinion!

  37. We do that with jewelry in my family, too. Floating opal necklaces and specific pieces from the (sadly now defunct) Ming's in Hawaii. Every time I wear a piece I am reminded of my ties to these women who have parts of me.

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