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Some Online Merchants For The Grande Dames Among Us

What with sweatpants and sneakers and such, I fear we have been neglecting the Grande Dame. She does not like neglect. So let’s take a look at two recently discovered shopping venues.

First, I bring you Halsbrook, perfect for the more conservative Dame. I found them on Linkshare and RewardStyle, and then began to notice ads on blogs I frequent. From a marketing perspective, I found it interesting that a luxury fashion company would go straight to blog ads, vs. a more traditional PR launch, but the Dame doesn’t want to hear about commerce, thank you very much.

By way of introduction, for the Grande do not buy from strangers, Halsbrook was founded in 2012 by a young woman named Halsey Schroeder, of Millbrook, New Jersey. Halsey was inspired by her mother’s ability to pull together stylish, non-trendy outfits. Say no more.

This site makes me feel like I’m with my own mother, or great-aunts of yore, in a good way. We purr in well-upholstered armchairs, at the Palm Court, or the museum cafe for lunch. Cossetted. Sleek. A garment for every occasion. No plain white button front for the Dame, except on the island of course. She wears tunics (this one by Anya Cole) with her skinny jeans and Roger Viviers. camel cashmere poncho from Scotland’s venerable Johnston’s of Elgin would suit nicely. My mother wears ponchos. And capes, of the non-witchy variety.

halsbrook_cashmere poncho_100113_0304If we imagine summer in the city, the Grande rhyme kitty over gritty. Our bags are sherbet. We’ll call this Cloudberry, shall we? Even though Annabel Ingall, the designer, says it’s Blue Bell?

halsbrook_030613-729And, since the Grande Dame does endorse trends as long as they involve a wave of appreciation for classics that have been with us for decades, she’d love a lace dress by Lynn Devon. Thank you very much.

halsbrook_lace dress_060513-44

For the more adventurous Dame – she who grandly verges on Artsy – I love Forward by Elyse Walker. I found the site, you may remember, when I auditioned a pair of Valentino Rockstuds for my wedding shoes. Elyse Walker, a stylist, opened Forward in Pacific Palisades in 1999, and launched her site in January of 2012.

I suspect all Grande Dames in Los Angeles are Artsy, one way or another.

But look. How’s this for a decidedly non-horrible holiday sweater? Future-proofing the traditional Fair Isle knit? By Kenzo, a designer from my past. Oh the 1980s. Oh Broadway above Lincoln Center. By the way, in a wonderful coincidence, both Fair Isle and Kenzo are having a moment this season.


The Grande will even consider Helmut Lang, in a dressy incarnation.


And finally, I do believe that in Los Angeles the Grande Dame wears leather pants.

All right, Madame, are you happy now? And yes, I will change for dinner, I promise. I know leather pants are only appropriate for city nightlife. And of course I’ll put that Cloudberry bag on your Christmas list. I love you too.

I should add, both Halsbrook and Forward have great sale sections. Because even if the Grande aren’t on a restricted budget, those of us who love them just might be.

Disclosure: Links above may generate commissions



29 Responses

  1. I must have inherited a small amount of Grande Dames genes from my grandmothers, because I liked everything here – I want that tunic! – until I got to the kerchief dress and the leather pants. Those made my Sturdy Gal self twitch a little.

    You’re welcome for the lamb sausage – it’s delicious. ;)

  2. Love the white tunic but am terrified of those leather pants! Obviously not a grand dame bone in my body because all I can think of is hot hot I would be wearing them!
    Am swooning over the Johnson’s cape and I would love the Cloudberry tote if only I was not so hooked on black bags….honestly i think an intervention is in order!
    Off to stroll those sites now and I’ll let you know if I find anything to buy. Living in workout gear is becoming rather tedious.

  3. one of these days i shall meet you for a drink and we’ll both be wearing kenzo and/or helmut lang, and it will be glorious.

  4. I would love to buy leather trousers but I wore them non stop from 20 to 30 and feel that 20 years later, my jowls aren’t up to it.

  5. Wow, did I ever fall in love with the Blue Bell/Cloudberry bag. It’s such fun to see Kenzo having a moment. Like you, I was an enormous fan ‘back when,’ despite my frumpish inclinations.

    Sending you a smile,

  6. I like the idea of this white blouse but it’s so buttoned up, I fear it would look too prim on me. Maybe if I wore it with jeans and sandals and lots of chains? I’d love to own the cashmere poncho, maybe in a different color. I know they’re on trend but I don’t like lace dresses on anyone– ever–unless they’re white or cream and it’s your wedding day. Narrow-minded of me, I know. The sweater is pretty but I’d look like I was impersonating a French school girl, not a good look for a woman of my age. Skulls are for Halloween and/or pirates, but who am I to judge? The Helmut Lang dress is gorgeous but naturally, only a size 2 or 4 available on the site. I’d wear it as a tunic over black skinny jeans, with ankle boots and a leather jacket. Of your three Style Archetypes, I lean toward Artsy Cousin, I suppose. No leather pants for this post-menopausal woman. Too rock and roll (and too hot!) for me. But they’d look very sexy on the right woman.

    1. I don’t think the white blouse could look prim, given the swashbuckling skirt, but I could always be wrong:).

  7. I purchased a set of five horn bracelets from the Halsbrook site a few weeks ago. I can vouch for their efficient shipping. Lots to look at at their site.

  8. This post will cost me hundreds of dollars. I may have to unsubscribe and cancel my internet service just to get away from these temptations. I’m fundamentally sturdy, with grande dame undertones and the occasional artsy swerve, and I’m dying for just about everything I see here, and just about everything on both sites. Sigh. That lace dress….

  9. With all this recent talk of sweatpants, skinny jeans, and sneakers it is indeed high time the Grande Dame puts her well shod foot down. You have certainly assembled a most stylish assortment here LPC and I’m with you re Cloud Berry as where I grew up Blue Bell was a company that built dungarees for rednecks.

    Would your Halsey be of the Bull Halsey Halsey’s?

  10. The Grandes of my acquaintance would wince at the leather pants, but be tempted by the rest. Of course which of us is a pure archetype?

  11. @gls: As a Halsey (related to the Admiral of which you speak), I’m also wondering about the family connection. My guess is that the designer’s mother was a Halsey, and gave her daughter the family name as a first name. (One of my cousins did the same thing.)

    Meanwhile, I am salivating over those outrageously divine leather pants. Yes, Lisa, they *are* the best leather pants ever seen. Ye-ow! If/When I return to the dating circuit…. ;)

  12. Leather pants for the Grande Dame? While I love the ones you feature, I think Oscar de la Renta and Roger Vivier shoes when I think of Grande Dame, not Sexy Mama leather pants with zippers. Do you remember Castleberry Knits? Maybe one of the jackets (thrifty Chanel) with black cashmere cigarette pants, kitten heels, a very good set of barouque pearls, and a Verdura bracelet? That’s more my idea of Garnde Dame these days…

    1. @Reggie Darling,
      Yes I do concur with Kathy & Reggie re leather pants as not ready for Grande Dame primetime even if a few grande dame aspirants continue to think that a ‘sexually eager’ look on a woman of any age is fine by them.

      1. That would be fabulous. I’m going to plead with our friend Reggie to see if we can get him to do just that.

    2. I believe what we are seeing here is the great Regional Divide. In San Francisco, and Los Angeles, leather pants are quite acceptable. Even polite, for lunches and cocktails out. The Grandes Dames had to traverse the country, and despite the set of their chins, have adapted, a tad.

    3. [x] yes, to a guest post by Reggie

      [x] yes, I’m going to have to replace my keyboard because I read Patsy’s comment with a sip of coffee in my mouth!! I even clicked it!

    4. @Reggie Darling, Love GSL’s descriptor “sexually eager”! The leather pants have definitely hit So. Cal.–just not on Grandes. And I think that the many chins would make them even more incongruent. I would, and do, see them here, but would immediately think “Artsy”. It is all vocabulary, and defining our terms.

  13. Yes Alex in Seattle it has long been a common practice (especially in old Southern and/or military families) to use a matrilineal surname of celebrated Colonial background as a female Christian name. It also has the effect (once discovered) of putting us randy gents on our best behavior.

  14. Reggie I agree with you!
    Those Castleberry Knits are iconic…it amazes me that they were crafted with such attention to detail…the embellishments and buttons are works of art.
    I am curious if your Grande Dame would ever wear trousers/pants? Mother has such a difficult time wearing them…she is not a classic Grande Dame as we are a middle class family but she seems to have a lot of the habits.

  15. Seems everyone holds a default notion of what a Grande Dame wears, some of us harbor memories of our great grands, others may collect notions from visible grande celebrities, most of these examples fall nowhere near the remembered codes of my family grandes, but given these selections it’s obvious LPC is going to be, as they say, a “rockin” grande when her time approaches.

    Here, meet my default grande: pastel leather, ye gods. A cowl neck, oh my no. Visible hardware, not ever. White shirting even, oh dear. See-thru voile? above-the-knee skirt lengths, ghastly faux gemstones affixed to a holiday-themed garment…well, she fainted, I’ll get the salts…

    Isn’t it interesting?

  16. Dear One, Reggie would be honored to do a guest post re. his idiosyncratic, East Coast take on the Grande Dame, maybe even the East Coast Artsy Cousin, too (as his sisters decidedly went down that path). Here’s another archetype that is worth mentioning: the Museum Docent Matron. We ALL know her when we see her! Reggie

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