This is a photo of my maternal grandparents.
When I was a very little girl, I remember thinking that my grandparents were the most glamorous people in the world. My grandfather, who worked two jobs to keep his family going and my grandmother, a homemaker/former secretary, used to have a BALL. They would enjoy cocktails and dance to old jazz records. One of my favorite memories was my grandfather teaching me how to dance the fox trot and the waltz while balancing on his feet. He told me, “Someday, we’ll have to do this at your wedding.” Sadly, he’s not here to see that happen, but the lesson remains fresh in my mind.
My grandparents were around during the Mad Men era and they’re where I got a lot of my ideas about being “proper.” If we went out, we dressed for dinner. Table manners were paramount. Hands folded neatly in your lap, legs crossed at the ankle. “Ma’am” and “sir” accompanied all manner of requests and any that didn’t have “Please” and “Thank you” attached to them would be met with swift and lasting lessons in disapproval.
I remember my grandmother’s closet being a thing of true wonder. Evening dresses that seemed to glitter under the closet’s dim bulb. A fox stole beckoned for cocktails from the top of the closet. Gloves were folded neatly in drawers, evening bags hung from delicate chains on clean nails in the wallpaper. My grandfather’s favorite cream-colored suit hung among neatly-pressed slacks and shoes shined to perfection. We called it the “Ice Cream” suit because it was the same color as a French Vanilla scoop with a chocolate-hued shawl lapel. A breakfront in the kitchen existed simply to hold shiny glasses for cocktails and crudite in case someone dropped by for drinks.
I remember my grandmother meticulously maintained her appearance. Her hair, pulled back in a bun, seemed never to fall out of place. My grandfather always smelled of soap and after shave. Evidently, when my mother was a child, there was a mishap with hair color. My grandfather wanted to dye his hair and the tint came out strawberry pink. As you can probably surmise, I was born to experiment with beauty products.
I remember my grandparents even more these days because they were also role models of living life to the fullest no matter how much money you had. We didn’t come from money…far from it. But they saved for the best they could afford and maintained everything meticulously. They didn’t have to jet off to the Maldives to feel free, they hopped in the car or had backyard barbecues, dressed to kill. They worked hard for every item they had and they taught me not only manners but to appreciate what I had. Because as tough as life may seem at certain points, there’s always someone who has it rougher.
My grandparents were some of the major influences of style in my life. In a world today that’s marred by senseless violence, a never-ending quest for “bling” and seemingly endless applause for uncouth behavior, I just wanted to show everyone my ideal of “high rollers.”
The original role models of class and style. My beloved grandparents.