Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hosts, Guests, and other Malcontents

With Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, ‘tis the perfect opportunity to remind you, Sweeties, of how to host, how to guest, and how to generally not make life-long enemies this time of year. Remember, our image goes much deeper than the clothes on our backs: part of it includes our ability to entertain graciously within our homes, our dedication to being the best possible guest ever, and most importantly, to leave everyone wondering, “How does she stay so pretty throughout the day?”


Don’t Kill Yourself – In our modern world, it’s quite easy to have someone else do the heavy lifting. I haven’t put it to paper, but I would venture to guess that you can cater your Thanksgiving meal just as affordably as you could should you go ‘the old-fashioned route’. I know for a fact that you can easily feed 6-8 people their turkey, stuffing, gravy, and dinner rolls for $39.99. Have your guests bring additional sides and pies. This way, you won’t have to get up at 4:30 am Thanksgiving morning, nor will you spend the biggest part of the day in the kitchen (unless you simply have to do so in order to get away from ‘those people’)

Spot Clean – Cleanliness is next to Godliness, so you should really take a good, hard look at yourself if your home requires more than a bit of dusting and mopping before your guests arrive. Those newspapers stacked up aren’t really newsworthy anymore, and what is now referred to as ‘The Bathroom Mishap of ‘88’ should have been dealt with back in ’88, don’t you think?

Look Smashing – Nobody likes an unkempt hostess. Go out of your way to wow your guests with your charming style. Avoid track suits, crocs, a bathrobe, or an oversized sweatshirt. Your guests will be so impressed by how fabulous you look that they won’t notice the overcooked turkey and undercooked mashed potatoes.

Keep On Hand – aspirin, Tums, extra wine, toilet paper, Diet Coke (only if your father-in-law is Larry Newman, and if he’s not, what’s he doing at your place and not mine on Thanksgiving?) Benadryl (if you’ve got guests who are allergic to cats), and a good sense of humor.


Bring Something – it’s in poor taste to show up at someone’s home without a little something –something for the hostess. She went to a lot of trouble to look nice for you. A little trinket of some sort, in addition to the side dish you’ve been assigned, is a nice gesture. Guests who bring me things I like (for example, a good bottle of Merlot), are sure to be invited back next Thanksgiving.

Arrive On Time, and Not Any Earlier
– your hostess needs those last few minutes in order to go over last-minute, vital details (place settings, false eyelashes, the usual)

Look Before You Sit – My old cat, Kramer, seldom moves from his spot on the couch these days. Please don’t sit on him.

Don’t Complain – Nobody wants to hear your gripes, particularly if they’re aimed at the hostess or her home.

Don’t Touch That Dial – Never take the liberty of turning on a television that doesn’t belong to you. If you simply must catch ‘the big game’ on Thanksgiving, stay home to do it.

Leave and Don’t Come Back – when I was growing up, we developed a peculiar tradition of spending most of Thanksgiving Day at my grandmother’s house, then leaving, then going back that evening for leftovers. This only created extra work for my grandmother. Leave at a reasonable hour, take leftovers if you’re invited to do so, and let your hostess get on with her business (tidying up, napping, finishing up that Merlot you brought, etc.)

Common courtesy and good intentions go a long way on Thanksgiving. Be on your best behavior, look your best, and enjoy a blessed day with your loved ones. Cheers, Sweeties!

Beth Newman
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Fashion Review: The CMA Awards

What started out as a mind-numbing exercise of ‘seeing what’s on telly’ last night turned into a great deal of work, thought, and snarky comments. I’m talking about the CMA’s, celebrating the alleged best and brightest of country music. I’ve been a fan of country music since I was a little girl, and although not much of it today could actually be considered ‘country’, there are a few current artists I enjoy. Of course, me being me, I paid particularly close attention to the fashion, and offer you my thoughts -and a few lessons- we can take away from it all. (The focus is primarily what we saw on stage, not the red carpet, by the way).

Keep it simple – while our hostess, Carrie Underwood, looked smashing on the red carpet, her constant outfit changes and over-the-top styling absolutely exhausted me. I realize I’ll take some heat here, but I found each of her looks too fussy. Too much makeup, too much hair, and overall contrived, stiff wardrobe choices. The key to true style is that it should appear effortless, and Ms. Underwood looked anything but. I imagined her backstage with a team of twenty people, all of whom spent the commercial breaks powdering, combing, embellishing, and stapling her into outfits.

Fit is vital – Female Vocalist of the Year Miranda Lambert looked fine in her purple dress, but she needed to pay attention to the fit. She spent most of her acceptance speech tugging at the top of the dress in order to keep from coming out of it.

Black is slimming….sometimes – Sara Evans’ all-black ensemble was a snooze fest and could have certainly done with some bling. Ms. Evans needs to remember that when wearing form fitting pants, even in darker shades, Spanx will work wonders in smoothing the silhouette. Television can be terribly unforgiving, and that’s a lesson Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum needs to remember. Ms. Scott is not a size 2, and that’s okay, but she would have looked much slimmer and more put together had she worn a top with some sort of sleeve and gone up a size in her trousers.

Dress for the Occasion – Because I work a great deal with young girls, I keep a very close eye on Taylor Swift, one of the current darlings amongst the younger set. She looked very pretty and appropriate on the red carpet, but her choice of a simple sweater and blue jeans during her performance left me baffled. You’re on television, Sweetie, and considered a style icon – take it up a notch!

Pretty much every male who took the stage could have done the same. It’s an awards’ ceremony, and must be treated with a sense of occasion. Blue jeans, ball caps, and sunglasses just don’t cut it, as far as I’m concerned, so I have no choice but to give my ‘Snappy Gent’ award to Vince Gill, who was the only gentleman to perform in a suit.

I’m Not Sure What it Is, but I Like It– I’ve taken a shine to The Band Perry, the family act that took home The Best New Artist Award. Front-woman Kimberly Perry looked lovely in what appeared to be a vintage dress straight out of the 1940s, while her brothers, Neil and Reid, look like throwbacks to the 1970s. Their look truly seems authentic, not something thrown together by marketing ‘geniuses’. I dig it!

Of course, I wouldn’t be me unless I included some thoughts on certain behaviors throughout the evening:

Classy – Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, and Vince Gill performed a beautiful tribute to legend Glen Campbell, who has embarked on his farewell tour following his recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. All three gentlemen not only looked great, they performed with an incredible amount of sincerity – and sincerity, in all that we do, is really what it’s all about. Mr. Paisley gets an extra nod for respectfully removing his hat when Glen Campbell took the stage.

Not Classy – I had no idea who Luke Bryan was until last night’s award show, but his performance entitled, ‘Shake it for Me’, along with a bevy of scantily –clad dancers had me absolutely reeling. It wasn’t country, it wasn’t classy, and I pray to God I never see anything like that again.

So today’s moral, boys and girls, is this: country can be sophisticated, and simplicity and sincerity in our words, actions, and manner of dress, shall always win out in the end.

For pics from last night’s show, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/step-right-up-jason-aldean-blake-shelton-join-elite-at-country-music-association-awards/2011/11/09/gIQAoATL5M_story.html?tid=pm_entertainment_pop

Beth Newman
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holiday Simplicity

Two weeks before Halloween, several shops in my neighborhood began decking their halls.

Two minutes after Halloween, not a ghost or goblin graced store shelves. They’d been replaced by Santa and his reindeer.

Christmas tunes already blare at one shopping strip near my home.

And it’s still two weeks until Thanksgiving, that seemingly forgotten holiday.

I don’t believe for one minute that the yuletide rush has anything to do with the true ‘reason for the season’; it’s simply a brash, bold move in the name of commercialism.

That’s right – I believe our society is one of over-the-top consumerism. Manufactures and retailers know this, and they play upon us to ‘get it now’, ‘get it while it’s on sale’, ‘get it so your children will love you’, and that sort of thing.

Personally, I’ve had enough of them telling me what to do because, quite frankly, I choose to live simply. I don’t have a lot of stuff. I don’t want a lot of stuff.

I don’t need the newest, most high-tech device out there because I like what I currently have. According to my husband, I’m a notorious purger – I simply don’t like anything unused taking up space in my house.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t understand the big whoop in having a lot of material things. That’s not what the holidays should be about, and it certainly isn’t what life should be about. Some of the most miserable, unhappy people I know are the ones who can (and do) go out and buy any old thing any old time they want.

Keep it simple – that’s my motto. I’ve seen children delight in gifts I’ve given them from The Dollar Store just as much as when they receive gifts I’ve given them from The Fifty Dollar Store. Perhaps if adopt a more childlike (rather than childish) stance, the holidays would be less mentally, emotionally, and financially stressful.

I’d love to see us all take a more elegant approach to giving, receiving, and celebrating this time of year. That means we refrain from camping out in front of stores as Black Friday approaches. It means we steer clear of gigantic inflatable outdoor monstrosities that pass as ‘decorations’. It means realizing that the biggest isn’t always the best, and when we do what we do from the heart rather than for show, we’ll all be better off in the long run.

So I encourage you to celebrate thoughtfully and simply this season.

Beth Newman
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!