Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A missed social opportunity for Gov. Perdue

When I looked back at photos of the recent Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon, it struck me that Gov. Beverly Perdue, who was being honored at the event, was one of the only women in a room of hundreds who didn't have on the one accessory the event is known for: a hat.

Since Maya Angelou began hosting the fundraiser for UNCF (United Negro College Fund) 10 years ago, the event is known for the fabulous hats the guests wear, and the fun hat contest that's a highlight of the luncheon.

It reminded me of when Samantha Cameron, the wife of British Prime Minister David Cameron, committed a fashion faux pas by not wearing a hat to the Royal Wedding last year. Because she doesn't like to wear hats, she bucked tradition and wore a small jeweled clip in her hair instead. The rabid British press were merciless in their critcism of her in their coverage of the festivities. SamCam, as she's known across the pond, was slammed for showing a lack of respect for the occasion. 

I wouldn't go that far in my observation of our governor's own fashion faux pas, but it was disappointing.

I talked with an insider at the event and her take on it was that they were just glad she was there, which of course is the most important thing. But she also added that the governor "would have been the rage of the luncheon" if she had indeed shown up in a hat.

To me, it was a missed opportunity on her part to truly connect with the other guests and show she was fully engaged in the event.

You never know what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a busy leader, so I don't want to be too critical. She could have accidentally left her hat at home. Or maybe she wasn't aware of how important it is to wear a hat to the event.

But one of the neat things about the luncheon is that it's also a fantastic place to buy a hat because vendors are there selling some truly unique and beautiful hats and fascinators. Wouldn't it have been fun if the governor, realizing her error, had  bought one from a vendor?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Find fashion inspiration in What2Wear and Charlotte's Best Dressed slideshows

I've just launched two new slideshows that I hope will inspire others to learn from stylish Charlotteans. Both appear each week at

Each Monday, the Charlotte's Best Dressed slideshow showcases chic partygoers taken from photos that ran the previous week on the Scene & Heard slideshows.

The What2Wear slideshow, also posted on Mondays, is a quick look at what people are wearing to a certain type of event. It's in its second week now. The first installment showed what people wore to a Summer Pops concert. The newest edition shows what guests wore to an after-work party hosted by OK! magazine and Wella Professionals at the Spa at Ballantyne.

Whether it's a hairdo, an accessory, a color combination or a whole outfit - the photos are filled with ideas that you can steal and adapt to your own style. Think of it as online people watching.

One of my favorites from the OK! magazine party is of guest Yiani Papanikas. I loved his outfit - especially his Kelly green shirt. But it was the antique cigarette case he uses as a business card holder that really sent me to style heaven. (I posted a photo at the top of this blog so you can see what I'm talking about.)

So look and learn along with me online each week.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Etiquette expert Peter Post's advice for the DNC

Peter Post, one of etiquette legend Emily Post's four great-grandchildren, is director of the Emily Post Institute and author of five etiquette books including "The Etiquette Advantage: Personal Skills for Professional Success" and the newly revised "Essential Manners for Men."

I met the Vermont resident when he was in Charlotte in 2004 promoting his New York Times bestseller "Essential Manners for Men" and found him to be as charming as he is intelligent. Along with excellent manners, of course, he has a great sense of humor.

So shortly after that when the Panthers played the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl (you can guess which side he was rooting for), I called him to get some fun quotes on the etiquette of attending Super Bowl parties if you're cheering for a different team than the hosts and guests.

I thought of him again as I began to ponder the party coverage I'll be doing for the Democratic National Convention when it comes to Charlotte in September during the week of the Labor Day holiday. I think of personal political beliefs as just that - thoughts you should keep to yourself in social settings. After all, the Holy Trinity of successful parties has always been discretion when it comes to talking about sex, politics or religion.

I have also been worried about individuals (including me) losing their cool during what will surely be historic levels of traffic and protesters in our pretty little city.

On top of all that, I wondered if in our business oriented city it was smart to be seen publicly aligning yourself with any political party for fear of losing customers who share different views.

Peter not only calmed my fears with some very practical advice we can all learn from, he made me laugh with some of his responses.

For business owners who want to make a show of their beliefs using their business, he had this to say: "There's no requirement that you put out bunting and pictures and declare you allegiance for either side - whether it’s Democrat or Republican. If you're making your business display your personal opinion, I would tone that down. You would be cutting off 50 percent of your customers if you aligned with a particular side."

That said, he's also adamant we should respect the right of people to display their support for their political candidate.
"Just because someone supports a person you don't support doesn't make them a bad person," he says. "Take it with a grain of salt. If you see a business owner who is more overt in their political beliefs, is that really a reason not to do business with them? Businesses and our relationship with them are built on so much more than what's going to happen in the next three months and during the convention."
If you are worried about tensions during the convention, Peter says the first thing to do is arrange to be out of town. "If you can't leave, be aware that it's going to disrupt your life and do a little bit of planning," he says. "Do things ahead of time so you don't have to put yourself in a stressful situation. Anticipate what might happen and what you'll need to do."
If you're stuck in traffic or experience any other convention-related stress, Peter says his advice is to do what his personal trainer has taught him: breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. "If you get frustrated slow down, take a few deep breaths and realize this isn’t going to last forever so what the heck - go with the flow – it's just three days."
If you come across overly pumped up conventioneers who may seem obnoxious at times, he recommends taking another deep breath and just enjoy watching the spectacle. "Look at it as an opportunity, not a disaster," he says. "Think of it as a once in a lifetime event."
If a stranger says something that rubs you the wrong way, Peter says to shrug it off. "Pick your fights carefully. If you hear someone say something negative and you have a reasonable correction, do so. For example, if someone is complaining about having to wait in line at a restaurant, you may want to suggest they go to another nearby place. But if you can't be helpful then no matter what they say don't worry about it. They're just a stranger. Don't get your knickers in a twist."
In regards to yard signs, he knows that people love to put them out, but he says to keep them positive by making sure they're for, not against, something. He thinks the worst thing you can do is leave them out after the convention is over. "They should be gone the day after it's over," he says. 
When it comes to protesters, including the anarchists that are headed our way, he recommends not antagonizing them. "Move to the side and get out of their way. This is not the forum for a rational discussion. If you think you're going to change a protester's mind, you're not. If you want to confront them, have a confrontation, but that's probably not going to get the results you imagine."
Peter has visited here several times and has very nice things to say about Charlotte being a great city. "The best thing you can do is show visitors the hospitality I've seen there," he says.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Secrets from celebrity hair stylist Andy LeCompte

The Spa at Ballantyne is joining with Wella Professionals and OK! magazine to present an evening of tips on how to get a red-carpet ready look. It's from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at the Spa at 10000 Ballanytne Commons Parkway. Guests will receive complimentary hair touch-ups and learn celebrity secrets for looking your best. Plus there are refreshments and goodie bags. 

It's free, but you must RSVP to 

OK!'s beauty director, Cheryl Krammer Kaye, told me that the celebrities setting hair trends right now are Rihanna, Nicole Richie and Thandie Newton because they don't stick to one style and they like to experiment with new looks. 

Although he won't be at the event, Wella Professionals celebrity hair stylist Andy LeCompte - who is on tour right now with Madonna and is best friends with Nicole Richie - sent me his general styling tips that will help you look like a star. 

·         Start with healthy hair: The most on-trend style starts with healthy hair. People will notice if your hair looks unhealthy, and even the greatest style won’t get the recognition it deserves. I recommend treating your hair once a week with a deep conditioner to help bring your hair back to a healthier state. I also recommend prepping wet hair with Wella Professionals Velvet Amplifier before blow-drying because it primes the hair by smoothing out the cuticle so hair looks healthy and not frizzy. 

·         Styling Tip: When styling my celebrity clients, I like to promote healthy hair by working with their natural texture. I only blow out the hair shaft until it’s about 80% dry, then finger style. Use a straightener over the hair in large sections, just to tame any wild kinks. 

·         Summer Trend Forecast : For the remainder of the summer, I see there being an increase in masculine, strong styles - so shorter and strong looks will be present. We will see more medium/shoulder length hair with a fringe. We’ll still see the emphasis on old-Hollywood glam but the cuts will be shorter, more pristine and more polished.

·         Day to Evening: My favorite way to go from a daytime look to an evening look fast is to dab a bit of Wella Professionals Pearl Styler in your palms and brush your hair into a sleek ponytail or ballerina bun. It’s clean, chic and super easy.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cheers to Bruce Julian

Bruce Julian is hosting his second annual Father's Day Gospel Brunch at 10 a.m. June 16 at his namesake men's clothing store at the Arboretum shopping center.

He came up with the idea a few years ago after a big night in New Orleans. "I was hungover and I needed a Bloody Mary and some religion, so I went to a Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues."

Bruce decided to recreate the experience in his store for customers and it was such a hit he's doing it again this year. He'll be serving his signature dish, Shrimp and Grits, along with his signature drink made with his new artisan Bloody Mary mix that he now sells in the store.

"Everyone needs to have a signature dish and a signature drink," he says. "How else are you going to be remembered?"

If you haven't put it together by now, Bruce's terrific sense of humor is as keen as his sense of style.

Gospel singer Lionel Cornelius - who performs all over the East Coast - will lend his glorious voice. "I've been making Lionel's stage clothes for a long time," says Bruce. "He's really good."

If you want to shop for your pop while you're there, Bruce has a recommendation based on his longtime career in retail: "A men's shirt is a sure fire hit," he says.

His favorites are a rough cotton V-neck polo without buttons that comes in five colors; a line of polo shirts with tractor insignia on them by Moods of Norway; an Artisan Deluxe shirt that comes in interesting fabrics; and for the cutting edge Dad, a fashion forward line in Batik and Southwest prints by Arnold Zimberg.

Now back to those Bloody Marys. Bruce also made pickled vegetable garnishes to go with them. As a generous guy who's full of fun and life, he loves to spread the joy, so his drink and food recipes are on his web site at

Cheers to you, Bruce!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What's hot in swimwear this summer

Among Charlotte’s most sophisticated shoppers, E Martini at The Morrison shopping center in SouthPark is the place to go for swimsuits and cover-ups. Owner Eileen Martini filled me in on what’s hot for summer 2012.
“Designers are enticing customers with classic one-piece, bikini and tankini styles that have a special twist,” she says. “Look for unique trims, braid, banding, cinching, fringe, stones and subtle touches of hardware.”

Martini recommends swimsuits in Italian Lycra fabrics. “Do not to compromise quality.  Fine fabric and workmanship will guarantee the best fit, color retention and long life of your suit,” she says.

Brilliant colors (lime, corral, orange, fuchsia, emerald, royal blue and purple) are in along with abstract prints, but black is still a classic favorite.

“Two-piece bikini swimsuits are the most sought after with a vast range of shapes, often offered in separates, to customize that perfect fit,” she says. “String triangle tops, banded halters, twist bandeaus, and retro “Marilyn” halters are expertly engineered to flatter the bust.  Coordinating, bottoms range from hot Brazilian cuts, classic scoop, modified boy cuts (low rise), to more modest hipsters and cute skirted bottoms.”

What if you’ve outgrown your bikini body?
“The most slenderizing, flattering silhouette is usually a classic solid color, halter one-piece with pure lines, under-bust seaming and lightly contoured cups,” says Martini.  “For the woman who is trying to conceal a tummy or those pesky little bulges around the waistline, shirred fabric is your best friend.  With respect to the “bum” area, moderate coverage often works best because sometimes too much fabric makes the area look broader.”

And don’t forget the cover-up. Martini says they have become an important fashion statement on their own.
“Flowing caftans and tunics are the rage, but to assure that you look young and modern, I would recommend a shorter (mid-thigh) length in soft, fluid fabrics that fall closer to the body,” she says.  “This cut easily doubles as a short summer dress or a top to be worn with capris shorts or skinny jeans.”

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tweet @icts unite!

When my editors told me a few months ago that it was mandatory that I start Tweeting, I did fuss a little. I already had so much to do and I felt like this was just one more thing to add to the pile. By my second Tweet I turned into a complete Tweet @ict (that's my new Tweet-inspired word for addict). I start twitching if I can't Tweet.

So when I heard WCNC was hosting a Tweet Up party, I immediately signed up. I'm so glad I did because I saw some media friends I have known for years, had a blast hanging out with the super nice gang from WCNC and met some really great new people who are out there doing incredibly interesting things - and Tweeting about it of course.

The absolutely stunning @DionLimWCNC stood near the entrance to the party to greet newcomers. She set the fun tone of the evening with her vivacious personality, plus she's super smart. And yes, the deal diva was wearing a stylish outfit that looked fabulous. Knowing her deal skills, probably found it on sale for $5.

I had fun catching up with Simone McDowell of @honeebeegifts. She has been nothing but nice to me since we first met years ago through her job at the American Heart Association. I'm so proud of how she has gone out on her own and how successful she's been as a p.r. person and with her wonderful Honee Bee Gifts blog. She really is Charlotte's expert on finding the perfect gift. I personally think that's because Simone is such a thoughtful person and she really listens to what you're saying. Those traits with her great eye for style are what have made her so successful. And forget Emily Maynard - I think Simone is one of Charlotte's most beautiful and eligible bachelorettes!

If you're in media in Charlotte, you quickly become wary of p.r. people, but there are a handful here who are total pros, a delight to work with and never waste your time. Along with Simone, one of them is @GwenPoth, who has some of the most fun accounts in town and works so hard she should wear a Superwoman logo all the time. She handles the popular Cowfish restaurant account and she told me that since famous wrestler Ric Flair is a regular, the restaurant is getting ready to introduce a new item to its menu: The Nature Boy's Wooooo-shi Buffalooooo-shi Roll (chipotle bison, fried green tomatoes, grilled onions and feta cheese rolled in tempura flakes and topped with thinly sliced red onions and green tomatoes drizzled with chipotle aioli and finished with thinly slice jalapenos). A portion of the proceeds will benefit Make A Wish.

I also always enjoy seeing Susu Bear of @ScoopCharlotte. Not only is she hilarious, but she really does have the scoop on everything! She was telling me about Vestique, a new boutique out of Raleigh that just opened on East Boulevard and carries chic women's clothes and accessories - all under $100. That's brilliant.

A tall and lovely young woman walked by and there was an immediate flutter. Whispers of "There's Katie! There's Katie" rippled through the guests. So I had to introduce myself to her so I could find out who was causing such a commotion. It was the delightful @KatieMcKiever, co-chair of Social Media Charlotte. She's one of those people that makes you automatically feel cool just because you're standing next to her.

I met so many other great new people, it's impossible to mention them all here. But I did want to give a Tweet out to @wxbrad whose weather and news tweets for WCNC are really helpful. It was thrilling seeing @sonjaganttwcnc who is such a Charlotte celebrity. Her professionalism, grace and smarts make her a role model. 

The guest who I think came the most prepared to wow was Nila Nicholas of @NCCandybuffets. When I introduced myself to her she gave me a really beautiful business card in it's on tiny envelope, a glossy postcard of photos and information about her business, AND a sweet piece of wrapped candy. Now that's a savvy way to stand out at a networking event. 

There's talk that WCNC might do another Tweet Up in partnership with the Observer. I'm going to push for that to happen. If it does, please come. Either way, please consider following me @oliviafortson.