Thursday, September 11, 2014

'Avant-Bland' versus 'Normcore'!

I don't know about you, but all of a sudden my somewhat-drab and dreary wardrobe is back in style, perhaps even considered high fashion in some circles nowadays.

The trend toward bland, average-looking attire--whether from an upscale department store like Bloomingdale's or Nordstrom, or from the big-box stores like Walmart and Target--is suddenly all the rage and no doubt causing some concern among fashion designers world wide.

The buzz words 'Normcore' and 'Avant-Bland' are all over the place to describe this new fashion phenomenon. Of course, it's yet to be determined if these are real and sustainable trends, or if it's just some kind of imaginary hype and babble from the low-end manufacturers and retailers. In either case, there's a subtle difference between the two terms to begin with.

Normcore seems to refer to our everyday white-and-blue collar work attire (the Jerry Seinfeld look), plus the creative non-designer street wear that young people come up with all the time.

Avant-Bland, on the other hand, gives the appearance of Normcore upon first glance. But closer inspection reveals it to be a high-fashion design from a well-known designer, cleverly disguised and jumping on the current, trendy bandwagon of Normcore.

My friend Linda in New York is known to show up at the TV studio where she works in jeans and tee shirts from Old Navy, and a pair of sneakers.

Miss Helen is known to run around her chic Washington neighborhood in old designer jeans and a pair of comfortable but scuffed-up black high heels.

Since the divorce things have gotten more lax around here, and I myself show up for work in sneakers, 501's, and a polo shirt (although from Brooks Brothers, I might add.)

So what are we? Normcore or Avant-Bland? How about a new fashion category altogether: 'Just Shut Up'.

The whole issue will probably settle out as merely another semantic battle between the haves and have-nots, a temporary consumer rebellion against the ruling 1%.  But I think the have-nots are gaining some ground here--which is to say, it's okay to be Normcore in this life, regardless what the Fashionistas have to say.

Thanks for dropping in tonight.

Andrew

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Losing Things in the World of the Rich!

This post is not about rich people losing their money and winding up in prison, it's about leaving valuable items behind when they travel.

In a recent post about dealing with house guests, Doll sent a comment and was a bit surprised to hear that rich people are always leaving valuable possessions behind when they clear out. She went on to ask how we deal with losses and thefts when the rich gather together, and who's responsibility it is to keep an eye on things.

The thing is, Doll, rich people are so busy and scattered brained that they leave stuff behind all the time. Maybe it's just a book or a bottle of perfume, or perhaps some clothing left in the closet (or that's not yet been returned from the cleaners). But it might be a cell phone or a Notebook, perhaps even an expensive diamond brooch or maybe a $200,000 wrist watch! Nothing at all seems to escape their forgetfulness and lapses in memory, which sends me shuffling off to FedEx quite frequently.

It's up to us, the house staff of course, to finds things left behind. Ester the upstairs maid has an especially keen eye for anything out of place in the guest rooms. But when there's a big party with a few hundred guests, problems with loss can quickly pop up. If there's over fifty people we give out claim checks for the coats and furs, so there's rarely confusion there. But women are notorious about setting their purses down and forgetting where--especially with all the gin and champagne, and the mind-numbing chatter going on.

To the rescue comes our caterer, Lydia. For her and her staff, hunting for a lost purse is a routine event at any big affair. She just gets a description, spreads the word, and her staff scatters out all over the house until the purse is located. (I suspect every caterer in the known world has had to deal with this very same thing.)

As for thefts, Doll, it's so rare among this crowd that it's barely worth mentioning. Depending on the event, we do sometimes hire security--especially if it's a couture event with lots of diamonds and furs showing up. But these people don't steal from each other, and the professionals who serve them are tried and true, not to mention bonded. Someone once claimed that a valet parker had taken a CD from his car, but that's all I can recall in my years of service here.

I can't answer for what happens when the rich go out in public. There are opportunists everywhere, as we all well know. But rich people are always on guard; they move in careful circles for where they shop and dine, and dress down when going into less secure locations. I know of a rich woman in East Hampton who exchanges her Bentley for an old Chevy when she wants to run around unnoticed or take a walk on the beach.

The bottom line is that rich people are insured to the hilt for each and every expensive thing they own. Loss or theft for them is merely an inconvenience, not a disaster like it can be for the rest of us. So let's not lose any sleep over this.

Thanks for dropping in tonight. And thanks for the question, Doll.

Andrew

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The Billionaire's Butler - Mystery, Murder, and Romance in the Wacky World of the Super Rich