Pet Week: Top Dogs--Pets In The Public Eye, Part 1


 The phenomena of fashions in pets (not to be confused with pet fashions, which is a different post) has been recently pointed up by Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, chosen by the Obamas. Cute, non-shedding, and smart, this breed hadn't been on the radar of the general public, but now, breeders are besieged by frenzied families, and according to the Wall Street Journal, being very picky about who gets a puppy. Previous First Pets hadn't set off quite the same mania, although Checkers, a spaniel owned by Richard Nixon became a household name.

Before Bo, Chihuahuas were popular, thanks to movies like Legally Blond and starlets like Paris Hilton.


And back in the '50s, Lassie set the standard for family  companionship, despite a frightening intelligence and a coat that required daily, hourly maintenance. Timmy's mom must have had a live-in groomer.Lassie

Beauty Rituals And Their Tools

Coffret-nécessaire de toilette-Renaissance beauty set

In a new exhibit, the French Musée National de la Renaissance has assembled quite a collection of Renaissance toilet items, including this luxurious set of 16th-century beauty tools. When grooming was a luxury, its tools were as well. In fact, the difficulty of making grooming tools cheaply was one reason that good grooming itself was a mark of social status. (Here's a page of links to photos of Medieval and Renaissance combs carved from ivory or bone.)

The ideal of a lady's luxurious vanity set lingered into the 20th century. My grandmother owned a typical version: a matching silver brush and hand mirror. If you search online, you can still find new silver-plated cosmetic brushes like these, but the more-elaborate sets will be vintage. (Check out this nail set.) The photos advertising them reveal a downside to such luxury: tarnish.

Nowadays, toilette is a routine chore, to be accomplished with efficiency. Accessories aren't meant as treasures or heirlooms but as useful tools, to be replaced when something better comes along. The most glamorous presentations of beauty tools promise not luxury but order: Buy this organizer, they suggest, and you'll finally get all that bathroom clutter under control.

[Photo: Coffret-nécessaire de toilette, Mathias Walbaum, circa 1595-1600. Musée historique, Bâle © Bâle, musée Historique / photo : HMB M. Babey.]

Matching Up In Style

207252523_a3100fc2ce Anyone whose commute takes them past a high school with liberal dress codes might notice the striking contrast between numerous young ladies dressed to kill and numerous young men dressed to skateboard in t-shirts and dropped-crotch cutoffs. And occasionally you see young couples out on a date in which the clash in clothing styles seems incongruous. (I suspect the style-conscious young Japanese couple in the photo can match styles well when they choose to.)

While I was a professor at Arizona State University a male graduate student entered the program who was tall and handsome enough to quickly attract the admiration of the undergraduate women. He soon started dating the most stylish female graduate student in the school. Within months she had made him over from hair to shoes into as stylish a male student as you could possibly imagine. He had a teaching assistantship, and after that a few of his undergraduate female students were always trailing along asking him questions (except when his girlfriend was present).

I once complimented a stylish engaged young couple on what a handsome pair they made, and he said, “You didn’t see us before she made me over.” She was slightly embarrassed and said, “He always says that.” But given how stylish she was, I had no doubt she had offered him a few suggestions.

I have seen numerous couples out together in which the woman looked considerably more stylish than the man, but seldom the reverse. But when my wife and I talked about this topic at dinner one night, we found it interesting that most of the couples we knew were reasonably well matched in terms of style. I would be curious whether our readers feel that they pair up that way, or whether one of them has mentored the other in matters of style. I had a casual conversation about this with a woman, and she said all her efforts to remake her husband’s wardrobe had been failures. And thinking about it, I realized the two male makeovers I described happened while the couple were dating. Do any of you have tips or stories to share in this regard?

[“Stylish couple”photograph by Javi Motomachi and used under the Flickr Creative Commons license.]

Maureen Kelly On Mom Glamour, And A Tarte Makeup Giveaway

C12008_sm Like many entrepreneurs, Maureen Kelly found her niche out of frustration. She loved makeup--she calls herself a "natural-born product junkie" and has confessed to giving her sister's doll an unrequested makeover as a preschooler--but she didn't like what she considered unhealthy ingredients and "boring, unglamorous black pots." In response, she left her doctoral studies at Columbia (where she received a master's in clinical psychology) and created tarte, debuting her first products in 2000 at Henri Bendel. The company's hit products derive their glamour not only from makeup's eternal promise of "hope in a jar" but from ecological ideals and sensuous packaging.

As Mother's Day approaches, we asked Maureen about motherhood and glamour.

DG: Has your definition of "glamour" changed since you became a mother? How?

MK: Since I’ve become a mom my definition of glamour has changed a bit—I still think of Grace Kelly and Aubrey Hepburn as iconic definitions of the term glamour, but I’m also noting more mother-figures as having that 'je ne se quoi'.

DG: How do you incorporate glamour into life as a busy mom?

MK: As a busy mom of two boys, I try to incorporate glamour into my life through makeup! A new shade of lipstick or a pretty pop of color on your cheek instantly updates your look and helps you stay current. I love makeup because it’s an inexpensive and easy way to update your style-these days we can all appreciate that! Being a mom means we don’t get to spend as much time on ourselves as we’d like so whether it’s a pretty pucker or a smokey eye, makeup is a quick and easy way to feel better about ourselves. It’s all about the little things these days.

DG: Who is the most glamorous mother you know of? What is it about her that makes her glamorous to you?

MK: Salma Hayek. She’s not only beautiful, but smart. Her work with UNICEF helps pregnant women get tetanus vaccines—to me that’s the epitome of glamour.

Spring Greening Tarte has generously agreed to give one of its scrumptious-looking Spring Greening makeup palettes to a lucky DG reader.

The Spring Greening palette includes six vibrant eyeshadows, three lip glosses with the company's t5 super fruit complex™ to keep lips soft and smooth, and a bamboo eyeshadow brush—all in a reusable compact made of straw and recycled materials.

The Spring Greening palette retails for $38.50 at, Sephora,, and

To win yours, be the first reader to email me at with the subject line TARTE. Please include your mailing address.

[Contest open to U.S. residents only. Prize will be shipped directly from Tarte.]

Venues For Glamour

Derby_hat I suppose that one could choose to be glamorous anywhere. While staying in a B&B in Harlech, Wales, we dressed casually and asked where to find a good local pub. After telling us, our host recalled a Parisian couple that had come down from their rooms on a Saturday night, he wearing a tuxedo, and she an evening gown. When they asked, “Where is the nightlife?” he looked at them and said, “You’re it.” Then he explained the local customs, sent them to a local pub dressed as they were, and they had a great time.

The Kentucky Derby provides an opportunity to wear outrageously extravagant hats and drink during the day. Seeing photographs such as this one, I am reminded of Ovid's line in The Art of Love advising young men “to learn to know the places which the fair ones most do haunt.” Places where “they come to see and, more important still, to be seen.” And he mentions Roman horse races as one possible venue.

In large, reasonably fashionable cities, glamorous events are more of a possibility. Theater events, charitable events, perhaps some country club gatherings, and maybe even some night spots where you might feel comfortable dressed in relatively glamorous clothing. While living in New Orleans I was invited to observe the carnival ball of one of the Mardi Gras Krewes, an event so costumed and formal that a tuxedo was required to sit in the balcony and watch. In smaller cities and towns, dress is usually more casual, though in small fashionable cities like Santa Fe, there are more chances to dress up.

How do readers feel? Is an occasion or venue required in order to wear glamorous outfits? Or can touches of glamour be incorporated into more ordinary clothing? While in Breckenridge recently to ski, I noticed that young Japanese skiers were, on the whole, strikingly fashion conscious, and this was true of both young men and women as they were merely window shopping in town. No wonder Japan has become one of the world leaders in style.

[Photo courtesy of Flickr user Velo Steve under Creative Commons license.]

This Time With Feeling! Belgians Bop

If only everyday life was more like musical comedy! The Antwerp train station was the scene for a seemingly impromptu song and dance number. (Actually, a Dutch TV series is searching for the next Maria to star in The Sound of Music, but it's still festive and fun, and even a little touching.)

Here in LA, Union Station would be the perfect setting for You're the One That I Want from Grease.

Small Daily Pleasures

Colter_mug Twice in my life I have been invited into homes that contained no objects designed to provide visual pleasure. No artwork, no family heirlooms, no knickknacks, plain  furniture, and plain food served on the plainest plates imaginable. In both cases the husbands were tenured university professors, so poverty was not the cause. One family was Quaker, but lacked the love of beautifully made, simply-designed furniture that many Quakers have. The other family was Jewish and had escaped Europe during World War II. Despite the husband’s success in America, their outlook on life remained as bleak as their home.

In both cases I went home needing to look at some of the visual “treasures” my wife and I have collected for our home. Their cost, whatever that was, is not what makes them treasures to us--what makes them valuable is the pleasure we have in using and looking at them.

The mug shown in the photo is a contemporary version of one designed by architect Mary Colter (1869-1958) for the Santa Fe railroad as part of her Super Chief china. The quail motif is a stylized version of one found on ancient pottery from the Mimbres culture , long vanished from the American Southwest. Coulter was one of the first women architects, and she designed several important buildings for Fred Harvey and the National Park Service. Her buildings remain stylish even today.

I love having morning tea in this mug. It’s beautifully shaped, sturdy, and feels good both in your hand and on your lips. Like most of the objects any of us collect, this one brings back memories and associations, including where we were when we purchased it.

Unfortunately, with familiarity we often take for granted the beauty and pleasure that our collected objects provide us on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s good to remember, to stop and look at them. In an important sense, they help define who we are. I had taken a seminar with one of the professors mentioned above, and I learned more about him as a person in one quick glance around his living room than I had in a whole semester of discussions.