Country Club Traditional

My prayers are with the people in Boston who were touched by yesterday’s tragedy. Sometimes I wonder about the appropriateness of blogging about happy things in light of terrible news, but the reality is every day people in the world face tremendous loss and hardship. And it can sink us, or we can care for each other as best we can, and try to find some bright spots to give us hope. When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was in prison, and it was from this place of darkness that he urged the early church to dwell on positive things.

When I faced my own private battle, focusing on the beauty in the world helped bring me up and through. And so I continue to write, not in spite of tragic circumstances, but because of them.


So yesterday, I decided to bring a little Palm Beach Chic to the playground. I’d had lunch with a potential client and gussied up a little with pink jeans and a cute flamingo scarf from Indigo (on sale now for under $20)

My son could not see me at first and asked one of the moms where I was. She pointed to where I was standing and apparently he said, “Oh no, she’s not in the pink pants, is she?” Everyone’s a critic.

Today, I’m going to continue with the second classic style that will hold you in good stead should you discover that your savings have galloped off to the Caymans along with your tennis pro turned investment advisor.

Country Club Traditional

I’ve always been a preppy at heart. I still have my copy of The Preppy Handbook. I bought True Prep the minute it came out. And I always have a copy of Assouline’s A Privileged Life at the ready.

The pages of these books define Country Club Traditional style – living the good life with other fresh-faced, sporty people. It’s a look that’s English country made less fussy and on a larger scale. There is an easy elegance to the Country Club Traditional look that screams both family and fun: slipcovered white cotton ottomans that accommodate sandy feet after a swim, large antique dining room table for when the whole fan-damily comes for Thanksgiving dinner, Auntie Nonie’s Chinese Ginger Jars from the years when Uncle Tad worked as a diplomat, that Andrew Wyeth painting that zany cousin Mildred won in her divorce. And of course, everything must be able to withstand a troupe of labrador retrievers. Sometimes a good game of croquet gets in the way of making grandfather’s money grow, however, and reversals of fortune are common with this bunch. There is not a lot of new or trendy stuff in the Country Club Traditional household, but thankfully grandmother’s Chippendale chairs still look fab!

Old Oakville seems to be defined by Country Club Traditional style  — lots of Cape Cods and Colonials on quiet, tree lined streets. Nothing seems to get thrown away. At the club, one plays badminton in a World War I airplane hangar, for heavens sakes: the ultimate in WASPy repurposing.

Sister Parish and Albert Hadley were hugely influential in defining the Country Club Traditional style. Sister loved the old-style English look and Hadley balanced things out with cleaner lines. Parish-Hadley protege Bunny Williams -and yes, having a nickname like Sister or Bunny is part of the overall aesthetic – also embraces this look. Love her Treillage line of accessories. It’s all “Quick, Chip, throw on your Brooks Brothers blazer and grab the Bombay and the Tonic Water. Muffy and Dean just pulled their Evoque into the driveway!”

Unlike Palm Beach Chic, which involves a bit of a treasure hunt, Modern Country Club pieces are readily available. Ralph Lauren, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, and Ethan Allen all have great pieces that work. And I adore Hickory Chair, if you are in an upswing budget-wise. Ditto for genius designer Darryl Carter‘s pieces.

Darryl Carter’s breakfast room via Elle Decor

Darryl Carter’s Master Bedroom via Elle Decor

You can also pick up a lot of great pieces at consignment and estate sales (there is nothing wrong with benefitting from others’ reversals-of-fortune while you are involved in your own!). I always keep an eye out for drop leaf desks, leather club chairs, anything with caning, blue and white ware, oil paintings, federal mirrors, antique golf clubs and tennis racquets, trugs, nantucket wicker, silver, coach lamps and antique books.

Here is my take on the style:

No, I won’t move so you can take a photo. I’m in the middle of doing research. 

I’ll go into a lot more detail about how to incorporate this style on a budget in future posts.

Tomorrow, I’ll be outlining a slightly riskier approach to style: English Eccentric. Hold on to your brollies, darlings!

Love to hear from you!

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