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Blog

Filtering by Category: DESIGN

"A Culture of Your Own" for VIE September

Suzanne Pollak

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“There are two things I know for sure. First, never sacrifice your personality for someone else’s idea of ‘perfection.’ You have your own background, beliefs, and set of influences. I have mine. Yours and mine are different, and that is what makes life interesting — to identify what makes us unique and discover what we can each bring to the table, our community, our world. But remember the second thing I know for sure: personal culture has nothing to do with Instagram likes….”

Read the rest of Suzanne’s article, explaining how to develop a personal culture all one’s own, in the latest issue of VIE Magazine HERE!

"An Authentic Voice" for July VIE

Suzanne Pollak

“Corene” by Jonathan Green (1995)

“Corene” by Jonathan Green (1995)

“What makes very young people able to turn passions into a living, marrying their gifts with the discipline to create their life’s work? How can they know so early, possessing the confidence and necessary focus to keep them on their path? I dreamed of being a painter but derailed in college, distracted by thoughts like, If I am not Picasso, is it worth it? If my work is not going to hang in the Met, what does that say about me? In I am not ‘in,’ then can I still keep going forward and not give a damn what anybody thinks?

Jonathan Green knew in his very being the irrelevant nonsense of those distractions, which don’t mean a thing at the beginning of a career — or maybe ever. That’s why I love him. He actively chose to master one field (actually three: painting, fashion design, and the social graces) instead of being a jack-of-all-trades.”

Read more about Charleston-based painter Jonathan Green in Suzanne’s latest article for VIE Magazine HERE

Style Blooms Eternal at the Chelsea Flower Show for June VIE

Suzanne Pollak

Queen Elizabeth II at the Chelsea Flower Show. Photo:  Prima

Queen Elizabeth II at the Chelsea Flower Show. Photo: Prima

“What is it that makes this flower show so special? It’s more than queens and duchesses. Designs, such as one suspended in air in 2011 and one made of three hundred thousand individually crocheted poppies in 2016, are not simply a passive art experience. The attendees of the flower show become active participants. Our visual sense takes in the exhibits like we do the portraits at the Tate or the National Portrait Gallery; beyond our eyes, our imaginations might leap into action and plot changes to our gardens. Some people take it a step further and become part of the show by wearing fashions with a theme. How many times can adults wear their inner passions without looking loony? How many opportunities do we have to be fierce, fabulous, and maybe a tiny bit frivolous? The show is the venue to see the intermingling of artistic visions: the flowers, the garden design, the crowd, and the fashion choices. It is like a natural museum come to life — a living exhibit and a contemporary art installation all at once.”

Read more about the Chelsea Flower Show HERE via VIE Magazine!

The Modern-Day Mary Poppins for April VIE

Suzanne Pollak

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“Meet Dennise Church — part modern-day Mary Poppins, part house whisperer, part intuitive soul seer who knows when someone needs their hand held spiritually. She flies around the country organizing, advising, and even putting clients to work as she sees fit, transforming and working her magic in ways that a life or business coach does not. Her specialty is making people feel differently about their living spaces, helping them to find stability in the midst of the turmoil in the world….”

Read more about the Dean’s personal M.P. in the latest issue of VIE HERE.

Taking on #Towelgate for Town & Country

Suzanne Pollak

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“All humor and Twitter one-upmanship aside, how many towels does one need to own? Is the count influenced by how many times you use them before washing? And what of the guest towel vs hand towel debate?

For answers, we turned to a doyenne of the domestic arts—Suzanne Pollak, who runs the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits—and asked for her thoughts on Ali’s bathroom arithmetic…”

Read the article by Liz Krieger regarding #Towelgate and the Dean’s final word on the subject, via T&C HERE

Self Love Series: Psychic Home

Suzanne Pollak

There could be a yard sale in your future…

There could be a yard sale in your future…

Getting rid of stuff liberates you. You are left feeling fresh and more in tune with your psychic home.

There are myriad reasons to release items that have no more use in your life, possessions that others can use, objects that just take up space. The most important is you must own your personal style and relinquish anything that doesn’t represent YOU. We want to see people expressing themselves fully...

An empty shelf, a bare wall, a pared down interior feels good! A refreshing breeze rushes into your soul, bringing with it a brand new energy. You become lighter. For those of us who favor minimalism, empty space is essential. For others, letting go is a good exercise. You can always fill in an empty space but it is a fact that everyone owns too much stuff. Who needs dozens of black pants, ten computer plugs, 50,000 jars of cosmetics, 150 cowboy boots?

Unless you are a collector — that’s a different story entirely, a discussion for another day. (Stay tuned for our next post if you are into collecting wine!) Collections are interesting, meaningful, even educational. They bring us beauty and infinite rewards.

Hoarding, however, does not. Even if you are not a hoarder, hanging on to things takes energy. It drains you of your power to access your innermost self. Keeping stuff just in case you may need it one day has no meaning for today. Take the plunge and purge.

Ironing is about Attitude

Suzanne Pollak

One day, a very long time ago, one of the top magazine editors in the country, along with his family, happened to be staying with me. He wanted to know where I kept our iron and ironing board, telling me unashamedly that he enjoyed ironing his shirts (or at least he did then.) He shared his ironing tricks; explaining that there was nothing to it: just pay attention to the collar, cuffs, and strip with the buttons. No one saw the rest of the shirt anyway. This man — a haughty, brilliant, intellectual with his finger on the pulse of everything everywhere — did not turn his nose up at ironing. 

So why did I? I am ashamed to confess that I believed ironing was a waste of time. For years I collected antique linens but paid others to iron. Now, I iron myself, and I enjoy it. My ironing sessions are for afternoons when I am doing heavy brain lifting, and need a distancing mechanism. Sherlock Holmes used his pipe smoking and violin playing. A knotty problem for Holmes was a 'three pipe problem'. My equivalent is two dozen linen napkins.

I plug in the iron; remove the linens from the refrigerator (more on that trick in the video below) and find the back and forth of ironing soothing, contemplative, and surprisingly rewarding. In no time at all, my mind disengages enough to solve the weighty problem, plus I have a pile of lovely linen napkins ready and waiting. Like a Battalion Commander planning an exercise, I feel that one detail is completed for a dinner party in the future.

There is something so satisfying seeing the pieces of cloth go from wrinkly to smooth. Near-instant gratification!

XO The Dean

The Ancient Art of Sweeping

Suzanne Pollak

Joseph Solman 1909 The Broom

Sweeping is the oldest form of housework. Dean Pollak remembers seeing West African girls sweep hard packed dirt floors in mud huts throughout her childhood.   

Every house, from a one room mud hut to a mansion with many rooms, needs a broom and a dustpan. Keep in mind, if you are setting up a new house, that wood floors and Persian rugs are more forgiving surfaces than white rugs and light tiled floors.  The dirt simply does not show up as much on the former surfaces.  And remember that the Japanese are really on to something,  82% of dirt is left outside if shoes are removed before entering the house.

Regardless if you ever wear shoes in the house, you are going to have to sweep your floors. Sweeping is quick, easy and efficient, and often, less trouble than dragging out a heavy vacuum cleaner. Using a broom can even be relaxing. The rhythmic sound of a sweeping broom relaxes, inside or out.  The violent noise from a backpack blower or vacuum does nothing but jar and addle listeners. The Deans prefer natural fiber brooms with an angled edge that are not too heavy to manage.

In 1908, Mrs. Curtis, in her book Household Discoveries, maintains that to sweep well with a broom is an art that calls for quite a little skill and intelligence. According to Mrs. Curtis there are wrong ways in sweeping as well as the right away. 

For those of you new to brooming, here's the right way as per the Dean:

  • Sweep dirt into a pile.

  • Sweep that pile into a dustpan.

  • Deposit into the garbage.

  • Voila! Clean floors.

Great artists see the beauty in brooming. 

Edouard Vuillard 1940 Woman Sweeping

MT. VERNON XMAS PUNCH (& other Homemade Gifts)

A. K. Lister

There is no good reason not to have an arsenal of homemade gifts on hand this time of year, whether to give to hosts of the many Christmas (and Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, etc.) parties you are sure to attend, or to reciprocate when a neighbor shows up with a little surcee for you and yours.  

Homemade gifts, like the Washington family's famed punch, can be simultaneously simple to prepare and yet still spectacular to behold, not to mention imbibe.  For as velvet-y as this punch may seem, it is a nonetheless quite potent mixture of bourbon, rum, Chartreuse, sherry, vermouth, and tea, cured for a week in tightly-sealed mason jars.  

Who knew George was such a party animal?!  You can find the recipe for Washington's Punch in our Archive.  Each jar may be individually labeled and tied up in a cheery ribbon, with serving instructions alongside for the recipient to enjoy at another occasion.

Now, there are a few ways to serve a jar of Mt. Vernon Christmas Punch.  For a small gathering of 5 or less, stick with cocktails.  Simply pour a couple ounces of the base over ice, top with either champagne or soda, and garnish with a cherry.  Why not present a plate of Cheese Coins alongside?

For 6 or more, get out the punch bowl -- we're having a party!  But first, you'll need an Ice Ring.  Simply fill a bundt pan halfway with cranberries, cherries, or any other festive fruit to garnish your punch.  Then run hot water over the pan to loosen the ice, flip it into the bowl, and top with 2-3 bottles of champagne to put it to action.  Like so:

There you have it, Mt. Vernon Christmas Punch, the gift that keeps on giving.  There are plenty of other goodies you can whip up and portion for casual gifting, whether alongside the punch or no.  Try biscotti, bourbon cake, or Raisin Scones.

But, if your kitchen is already sanctioned for other grandiose projects -- we're making Prime Rib for Christmas Eve dinner (more on that a little later this week) -- build your Holiday credit with promises for the New Year: offer to make a series of meals, complete with menu suggestions, for someone extra special, or plan to throw a dinner party in their honor.  Or, simply take all your girlfriends out for a nice lunch and hand out a few fabulous party favors.

Regardless, 'tis the season to let the people you love know exactly how you feel...and to drink lots of punch!

XO, the Academy

 

No One Can Enjoy Delicious Food through Gritted Teeth

Suzanne Pollak

Unless your oven conks out, your Thanksgiving meal will get cooked. Everyone puts so much thought and effort into the food that we just know that the flavor of your meal will be wonderful, wherever you eat it. 

What causes our annual breakout of holiday hives is that Thanksgiving food is endlessly thought about but the entirety of the day can be overlooked. Children need to be entertained, elderly people need to be comfortable, lonely neighbors and acquaintances need to be invited, not to mention you yourself must be taken care of! If you are in charge of the day and you break down, well then, everyone is in trouble. No one will mind if there is no creamed cauliflower, but they will mind if no one is getting along and the children are screaming and the sister-in-laws are bickering and the table is rushed to and and then abandoned in a total of fifteen minutes. No one can enjoy delicious food through gritted teeth. 

  • Start grocery shopping days before and be sure to get to the store first thing in the morning. Do not try to accomplish all your shopping in one fell swoop.

  • Make sure everyone has a task to do. This is no time to be a hero. People like to help. Let them.

  • Set the table the day before if you can. If not, be sure to delegate it to people not actively involved in cooking.

  • Assign the turkey carving to a person of competence as early as possible.

  • When someone asks what they can bring assign bottles of wine, or to bakers, a homemade pie.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two days you have people over who may be difficult whether you want them to or not. Although sometimes easier to bite your tongue when someone says something truly offensive, it’s not always best to remain silent. Remember your example to the younger generations, and that some things we should not simply let go. It is possible to respectfully present an opposing view, and then pivot to another subject so the tense moment dissipates. Or better yet, save your discourse for a private moment. Thanksgiving dinner is no place for politics after all, but a time to be thankful for friends, family, and good food!

Talking Top Sheets with Town & Country

Suzanne Pollak

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Town & Country contributor Liz Krieger knew who to call with her burning questions on whether or not a top sheet is an absolutely necessary addition to the make of a bed. Although Krieger cops to her own 'millenial' disregard for a top sheet, Suzanne remains steadfast in her admittedly old-fashioned devotion to the extra layer. Read the article, including all the pros and cons of having a flat linen to keep you cool (or warm, depending on the season), HERE via T&C! 

"The Romance of Outdoor Rooms" for VIE

Suzanne Pollak

Photo courtesy of G. P. Schafer

Photo courtesy of G. P. Schafer

Summertime is finally here again! In Charleston, this means lots of lounging in the shade of our (or our friends') porches and piazzas, iced beverage in hand, fresh off a dip in the sea. For the June issue of VIE magazine, Suzanne reflects on a life lived in outdoor rooms, from Tripoli to Ghana to the Carolinas, and the magic of bells, birds, and blue skies experienced in these inspiring spaces.

Read the full article HERE on VIE's site... 

Q&A with Dierdre Zahl, Owner of Candy Shop Vintage

Suzanne Pollak

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Q: What is your personal style? At home, for parties, in the store?

A: My personal style is feminine with an edge. I like girly details, like peplum or bishop sleeves. I love wearing heels, skirts and stockings, but I always like at least one bold print or accessory -- usually in the form of statement jewelry!

Has your (personal and house) style changed since you were single versus now as a mom?

I would say that in my early twenties, living in NYC with musicians on the Lower East Side, my style was definitely edgier, more rock and roll. Lot's of cut T-shirts and ripped denim. In my late twenties, after I got married and moved to Charleston, I softened my look a lot with more feminine cuts like peplum sleeves and flared skirts but always with a bit of an edge, usually in the form of statement jewelry! Since becoming a Mom, my style has remained pretty consistent. I like to dress up and since I own a shop, I definitely have to put some thought into my outfits as I can't just roll out of bed and sell jewelry. My daughter has really picked up her own strong sense of stye too; she likes to pic out all her own clothes and is very opinionated!

How do you accessorize for parties? A dinner party at your house? Going to a restaurant? 

Cocktail party: a fun party dress, big earrings and heels. A dinner party at home: leggings, heels and a silk blouse with some Charleston Rice Beads and red lipstick. Dinner out: a skirt with maybe a bodysuit and cute blazer or fitted jacket and stacks of bangles plus a fun purse.

Any go-to necklaces, earrings, shoes, your mother's or grandmother's pieces? 

I usually wear a piece of Candy Shop Vintage, often a Charleston Rice Bead bracelet wrapped multiple times around my wrist. I have some very cool vintage earrings in a few styles by MAM', a designer from Texas who used to make fun, colorful statement earrings out of resin-coated paper. They are very lightweight, but big and whimsical. I also have these great woven palm tree earrings by Mercedes Salzar, a Columbian jewelry designer who is just incredible.

Favorite source of inspiration? A person? A place? In Charleston? 

Daphne Guinness is definitely my ultimate style icon. She is so elegant, so edgy, so high fashion but still soft and feminine and very unique. I love following Beyoncé's Instagram account. Her outfits are so on point and of course I look to a lot of vintage clothing, jewelry and home accessories for design inspiration.

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Do spouses come to the store for Valentine gifts/ideas? What do you recommend? 

We get a lot of spouses very close to the holidays. Usually they are last-minute buyers. I usually recommend the Charleston Rice Beads because they are always a crowd pleaser. We have them in a wonderful Kelly Green and light pink this spring -- perfect for Valentine's Day! We actually did the light pink a number of years ago and brought it back.

Favorite hostess gifts? For parties, or as a house guest? What do you like to receive? 

I always love candles as a hostess gift, or a bottle of wine. We have some great embroidered cocktail napkins in the shop and of course, your Handbook is always a wonderful gift for a hostess. We can hardly keep them in stock!

On Collections

Suzanne Pollak

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The Dean is preparing a heartfelt goodbye to a beloved porcelain collection in the New Year, as her Quianlong period 'tea cultivation' dishes go up for auction at Christie's on Thursday. She writes:

Chinese export porcelain, doorstops, clocks, highboys, bed linens, copper pots, cookbooks, antique dining tables – round, oval, rectangle and square – I collected them all. One of the most bizarre diplomatic transactions of the 18th century occurred when Augustus of Saxony choose 127 pieces of Chinese porcelain from the Palace of Charlottenburg, in Berlin, and gave in return 600 giants of the ‘required height’ collected from his provinces...as if the ancestors of today’s NBA players were traded for porcelain! Augustus of Saxony had what was then called ‘porcelain sickness’. He emptied his country’s treasures to the dealers in Paris and Amsterdam.
I admit I too had the ‘porcelain sickness’. When I was just 20 years old, I went on a tour of Bassett Hall in Williamsburg, Virginia. I walked into Mr. Rockefeller’s butler’s pantry and saw his stacks of china (a different set for every day of the year.) My younger self thought, "What a great idea." Mr Rockefeller and I could have been cousins. But now I know that the only thing better than acquiring the collection is getting rid of it so new collectors can enjoy it. I loved assembling the collection but I do not mourn for what I have sold. 

There are so many benefits of collections, aside from the pure sporting pleasure of acquisition as you hunt down pieces at auctions and in catalogues. It may seem that you need to be an expert to get started, but that is not the case. Don't be intimidated -- start by researching what you are interested in. Any budding interest takes courage to step out of your comfort zone and explore. 

Of course, as with any other hobby, there are pitfalls of collecting too. It may be easy to go overboard, or you may fall under the illusion that you are an instant expert. (You're not!) It's wise to get your purchases vetted by more than one person. Otherwise you are like a sitting duck to predatory dealers. 

But a decades long collecting habit leads to self-confidence and untold pleasures once you awaken a new intellectual pursuit. You will learn an object's place in history when you discover its provenance and assess its condition. Beyond your initial attraction, you will develop a keen instinct for precious objects and come to a deeper understanding of color, proportion, patina, constuction, and the difference in quality when something is handmade rather than mass-produced. You will likely find yourself in corners of museums you've never explored before, and meeting new people with similar interests. The passion of collecting quickly becomes an everyday thought.

 

Pick from Your Neighborhood

Suzanne Pollak

When he walks down the steps and sees the fronds, the person living here thinks,  This is my kind of house!

When he walks down the steps and sees the fronds, the person living here thinks, This is my kind of house!

Even if you must sneak out before dawn so as not to get caught, do it! Clipping fronds and ferns is not really stealing. Leaves grow back. The trick to the chicest arrangements is choosing different textures, colors and heights. Stuff your pickings into a long vase filled with water, bottom leaves stripped so as not to contaminate the water.

Think of this as an architecture project. Take a look at your space and then use your imagination. Leaving air between leaves allows imaginary butterflies to fly through. The goal is to for the width and height to fill the space on a hall table so every time you walk by, or go up and down the stairs, wherever your interior path may lead -- a jolt of jolly green pleasure hits you.

Natural, fresh, sometimes with a delicious aroma, this easy-to-DIY project breathes life into your space. The arrangement can actually make you feel different, like you are in the house that you deserve to be in. 

A Few Indispensable Tips on Cocktail Party Attire

Suzanne Pollak

It’s chic to wear a fantastic ‘something’ over and over to make it your signature. Just as smart hosts cook their favorite recipe again and again, no matter who comes to dinner, because they know their guests look forward to their culinary specialty; the chicest women throughout history know the style repetition secret. 

Even a simple ensemble can become your signature with the right attitude and accessories...

Even a simple ensemble can become your signature with the right attitude and accessories...

That 'thing’ can be an accessory, a dress, a shoe. The Dean learned from native and expatriate ladies swanning into her parents 1960's cocktail parties all over Africa. Women wore cigarette pants for casual affairs and jewel-toned satin mini cocktail dresses at fancier parties. Along with real hair dos (coifs, up-dos), eye liner flaring out just like Cleopatra, brilliant lips inhaling pearl or golden cigarette holders, perhaps even a huge cocktail ring or elaborate earrings...none of these beauties boasted a colossal wardrobe with unlimited choices but they had a cocktail uniform that took them anywhere. Once vital decisions are decided, brains are free to tackle life’s thornier problems: whom to invite to the party, which stranger to talk to first at someone else’s, how to grab attention, connect, ignite a fire, or tactfully end a conversation that's headed nowhere.

One  Taffin  ring...

One Taffin ring...

and another.

and another.

The teenage Dean appropriated the tip immediately and forever. Deciding and simplifying what to wear wherever is cheaper and quicker once you you know what suits you. Dressing becomes a snap, so be loyal and stick with your style. Adding that something extra, or taking it off, makes the outfit appropriate for the particular party and place. 

Because, of course, it makes a difference where the cocktail party is: Hollywood, California, Hollywood SC, Beirut, Tripoli or Paris; the Ambassador’s residence or your neighbor’s garden? "When in Rome," so the saying goes. You don’t want to be dramatically different than everyone else unless you can handle it. For example, a man does not wear a motorcycle jacket when he attends a soirée at Charleston’s  Yacht Club. Men there wear the proper uniform of khaki pants and a blue blazer. The Dean once knew two young American beauties visiting the south of France who were assured that everyone, absolutely everyone, went topless to parties at a certain place. Perhaps a little naïve, they showed up appropriately undressed to a party filled with elegant older couture-covered guests. Still embarrassed decades later! 

Dressing comes down to the first impression. What can a first impression tell us about someone whom we only met for a moment at a party? Of course we all know human beings are complex and contradictory, but you don’t have to live with someone to sense immediately if you want more of them or less. The package of you starts with eye contact, the smile and what is draping your body. Identify what you want out of the engagement. Something, or nothing? There to sip one bourbon, or to possibly meet your next business associate or romantic partner? You don’t want your clothes to get in the way. A woman does not want to be so flashy others are distracted from substance, but neither does she want to seem too dowdy. 

Figure out your primary assets -- cleavage, neck, arms, hair -- and choose cocktail attire accordingly. For your own engagement, you will need to move, sit and stand. As a guest you can swan around or sprawl on a sofa as you wish.

For reference, here is the Dean's summer cocktail uniform: Hart tassels, J. McLaughlin white blouse and cigarette pants, with extra pointy shoes to make legs look longer. This pair of Balenciaga mules harkens back to the time of Robin Hood! Because they are extravagant, they will be worn with jeans all fall and winter, for hosting ladies luncheons and gumbo dinner parties, with a Halloween costume, for a Thanksgiving feast and Christmas dinner, even just for hanging out at home.

MORE on How to Host a Bridal Shower (for Martha Stewart Weddings)

Suzanne Pollak

The Dean, Etiquette Expert Extraordinaire, returned to Martha Stewart Weddings with some additional tips on how to host a Summer Bridal Shower. For everything from menu suggestions (spoiler alert: no messy finger foods) to theme ideas, as well as how to hone your guest list, check out the full piece HERE...

The Academy in Charleston Magazine

Suzanne Pollak

The fine folks at Charleston Magazine recently paid the Dean a visit in order to taste a slice of life at the Academy. As always, she was happy to oblige with a tour of her Rainbow Row home, designed by James de Givenchy, as well as the garden, overflowing with citrus and honey.

Read the article and view the slideshow HERE at www.charlestonmag.com.

Blow Open Your Tabletops

Suzanne Pollak

Now to address a few burning Bridal FAQs re: table settings, centerpieces, and personal style. A wedding registry is no time for strict guidelines, but rather a chance to begin building your collection for decades of dinner parties to come. No matter what stress should ever consume your day, you can ease out of it by cooking dinner, sipping a glass of wine, and setting the table (and mood) for the night ahead.

No need to register for two china patterns, one fancy and one for everyday. Way too old school! Far better to delve deep into your inner being and suss out all the aspects of your person. Think color, moods, passions, place...

For example, maybe you appreciate hand-carved wood -- consider a collection of handmade bowls. There's no end to what you can do with these. Use smaller ones for olives and nuts at cocktail hour, or for individual starter salads at dinner. Fill larger bowls with BIG salads, or perhaps something else interesting (citrus, hankies, pens and paper for a parlor game) to set as a centerpiece. Or, choose wooden chargers. And you know what looks good with wood? Gold, of course!

Just look at this extravagant, marvelous, opulent Royal Crown Derby. Who can afford to collect a whole set? And besides that, who wants to? It is so too much, simply over the top. All that gold cancels out to equal a big let down, where a one-size plate sizzles and shines on the table. Perfection! A gold salad plate looks amazing filled with greens for a salad course, chocolate tart for dessert... Actually, everything looks good with gold.

Okay, how to satisfy your love of birds? Consider Ginori. There is nothing as wonderful as a set of 8 or 12 or 24 dinner plates featuring birds. These beauties yearn for a Thanksgiving dinner to be placed on them, but dazzle even under an everyday roast chicken. These plates say something about you; your passion for nature, individual style, love of design. What could be more boring than a whole set of one china pattern covering the table? The older the Dean gets, the more she thinks, YUCK. This person has let someone else tell her what to do, and ignored that inner voice of what she likes.

What appeals most to us? Anything but flipping through ad-filled magazines, shopping at bridal superstores, or listening to friends and family who have never identified true style. Plates and objects on a table are a way to express yourself. So are centerpieces: flowers mixed with fruit, bunches of veggies and greens that will become tomorrows main course, a handmade pie that will become tonight's dessert.

Have fun with the rest! Modern flatware choices might include horn (so chic) or bronze (gleams on the table and unique to boot) but there is still something to be said for a classic silver pattern. The most popular through the ages? Francis the First has that swirly Baroque feel which pairs so well with plain, stark, straight. Don't be afraid to mix high and low. As for napkins, it's all about juxtaposing different colors, textures, and aspects of your personality. Sometimes you feel flirty and fun, other times more composed and traditional. Sometimes girly, sometimes a huntress.

Let it all out on the table, loves. These kind of style decisions will get you well on your way to bolstering your confidence. No one needs to tell you they approve. If you like it, then go for it. That’s exactly what the Dean does, and it has always worked for her.