Archives for October 2015

October 27, 2015

Ghosts of Octobers Past: Princess Charlene’s Best Black Dresses

You all know I love October, but I generally veer away from the Halloween aspect that so many people adore. Instead, I immerse myself in the warm plums and mossy greens of the season, doing my very best to avoid the holiday that condones wearing orange and black together. But as it inevitably approaches every year, I admit that I do find myself re-discovering the little black dress, a playful nod to the spooky hallows-eve, while removing the tacky, garish element that so many second graders find so charming.

While perusing my closet to see what ensembles I could put together, I took a little time-out to see what Charlene has chosen in years past, and to my great amusement, she too seems to gravitate toward black-on-black in previous Octobers! I thought I might compile a sort of sartorial look-book so that we all might get inspired – and hopefully we can collectively bring a little fashion sense to this otherwise dreadful holiday.

This was, to me, one of Charlene’s most adorable looks. She attended the Louis Vuitton show during Paris Fashion Week in October 2013 in this sheer, cute dress, paired with flats and vibrant makeup. Her makeup choices are all over the map – some neutral, others wild, still others bold – but they are always glorious. This dress, however, was completely out of left field for her. She usually stays on the edgy side with her fashion; this, however, was just plain cute.

Now we get back to the norm. Charlene attended the Versace dinner in October of 2012 wearing a structured coat and knock-em-dead boots. I would kill to be courageous enough to wear high boots like these, and Charlene has opted for them on a number of occasions. They are biker-chick-meets-sophistication, the latter part of that being simply because they are on Princess Charlene. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this princess has guts.

On a more demure side, during Charlene and Albert’s state visit to Poland, also in October 2012, she wore a number of tasteful ensembles, including this unique, flared black coat with double closures. Its high neck and full skirt are features we don’t see too frequently on the princess; however, she looked lovely. Even more lovely happened inside the building, when she took off the coat:

Under the coat, she donned a stunning bateau-neck dress. It fit her like a glove, and while the neckline may have highlighted her already-prominent shoulders, it was nonetheless elegant, and succeeded at showing off her gloriously long neck. This is one of those dresses that flashes across my mind when I start thinking of the phrase, “Can’t live without…”

That same October, Charlene and Albert found themselves at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy, for the Ballo del Giglio, where Charlene wowed in this floor-length black gown. It was flowy and billowing enough for a fairy, but a fairy of darkness because of the bold hue. Her hair and makeup did justice to the gown, too, illuminating the princess within while giving a subtle homage to everything spooky. And the back of the dress, well, see for yourself:


Ok, moving on…

Again with the boatneck, and I’m not complaining! At the Monaco Humanitarian Group Presentation in October 2011, Charlene chose this simple, little black dress with a surprising cutout in the neckline. I’ve already expressed my adoration for the bateau-neck on Charlene, so I won’t go any further except to say that I need this dress in my own wardrobe (so if one of you out there could get on that for me…).

In October 2009, well before becoming Princess of Monaco, Charlene Wittstock and Prince Albert attended a few events over here in the USA; however, Charlene had not fully come into her own yet, sartorially speaking. Here at the University of San Diego, where she attended Prince Albert as he accepted an award, she wore this plain dress that still strikes me as dull. This is a nice dress, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just a tad too simple for me. She improved things a bit during their stop in Beverly Hills, though:

This is just the wrap I’m looking at: the dress underneath is just as plain as the previous. Either way, it’s an improvement in just the fact that the wrap gives the look more texture and draping. Granted, it might be too obtrusive of Charlene’s statuesque figure, but it is certainly an improvement.

Back in Monaco that same October, Charlene wore a combo of the above two: a shiny black dress (my opinion: bad) and a grey wrap (my opinion: good). I generally don’t like too much shine in my eveningwear – perhaps due to the inordinate number of weddings I’ve been in, where satin has ruled the night – and this just screams bridesmaid to me. Or a Homecoming Dance, I’m not sure which, but either way it’s not good. At least the wrap gives a semblance of elegance…and at the very minimum, it covers up the dress.

Now we’re back at the good. This stunning black gown was Charlene’s choice for Sotheby’s benefit for the Princess Grace Foundation in New York City back in 2007. Charlene was, as previously mentioned, trying to navigate her way through the spotlight and find her own fashion sense. This one was a win. I love the way it hugged her curves, curled up over one shoulder, and flattered her bright-blond hair. I think this event showed black as a winning color for the future princess, marking her continued return to the shade in her future years. She could have used more jewelry here, but that would come later when she actually became a royal.

I couldn’t resist putting this Ralph Lauren dress in the lineup, even though it is actually deep green. It looks black, right? And it’s just the right mood for Halloween. In my household, I call this dress the Maleficent dress. It’s hit-or-miss with Charlene followers, but it just makes me laugh. She looks good, really good!, but it is so dramatic and over-the-top that it just makes me think of those sorceress-queens from Disney movies. She did wear it in October, so perhaps it was intended to be reminiscent of a Halloween costume? Who knows, I just couldn’t do a Halloween post without it!

But of course, I would be remiss to look back on all these years of October in black without noticing the most recent October, in which she wore white:

She wore this angelic, gossamer-like white gown in October 2014, when she was expecting her twin babies to enter the world. The light at the end of the tunnel, some might say, or perhaps she was just not feeling the darkness at such a beautiful time in her life. Last October was a bright time for Charlene, and I can only hope it remains a bright time for all of us, no matter what our color choices. Happy Halloween – please don’t wear orange!

October 8, 2015

Oktoberfest and Charlene: a Blast from the Past

October is my favorite month of the year. It’s autumn, the air is liberating and crisp after a suffocating summer, and the leaves echo a delightful crunch under my freshly-resurrected suede, high-heeled boots. I love the autumnal sunrises, glowing amber without the threat of a matching intensity in heat. The pumpkins, too, with their twisted vines and surprising colors, which are so adorable that people often forget to bake them and just use them as home décor instead. And, at least here in upstate New York, it’s apple-picking season, even for she-who-hates-apples (me). Luckily, I have found that a little caramel-and-peanuts action can make even the most basic apple actually taste good.

With all of the busy happenings around me – preschool and birthdays and anniversaries – I almost neglected to slow down and enjoy the season. So yesterday morning, I put my workout regimen aside and instead poured a cup of soothing pumpkin coffee as the sun rose, hopped on my computer, sliced open a caramel apple, and reminisced through Princess Charlene’s past Octobers. Sartorially, she inspired me all over again in so many ways, and I plan to write some bigger pieces on some of her October choices from years past. But for now, I must welcome you to the season in the same way she did three years ago: Oktoberfest!

In October of 2012, Charlene and Albert opened Oktoberfest at the Café de Paris in Monaco. It’s an annual tradition for many countries, Monaco included, so it is lovely to see the dynamic duo taking it in so jovially.

I’ve got to say, Charlene certainly pulled out all the stops with her outfit. Too bad Albert didn’t really go whole-hog with her: it would have been fun to see him in some lederhosen, don’t you think?

Even Charlene’s hair was in the spirit of things. I love it! Maybe not for every day (actually, why not? It looks really good!), but for this event it was delightfully apropos. It’s one of the things I like best about Charlene: she seems so game for anything. This easily could have been an event where she dressed normally, and simply agreed to have a beer to open the festivities. Instead, she arrived in full costume, completely in the spirit of the occasion, and wound up opening Oktoberfest in a grand, fun way. That’s the way to do it!

Charlene is a reminder here, to slow down and enjoy this season full-force. It comes but once a year, so we might as well dress for the occasion – be it by literally wearing the costume or by dipping an apple or sipping a pumpkin latte as we shop for groceries. We must find the time to be game, be grand, and enjoy the spirit of the fall. Here’s wishing you all a beautiful autumn, filled with warmth, caramel apples and, if you’re very lucky, a lovely German ale. Happy October!