12graceysmallClick on the top title to open  I would never want to go through life without my FFFs, or Fabulous Female Friends.  I have been privileged to have a few over the years.  A fabulous female friend applauds your success, appreciates your differences, and is a soft place to fall when the world is hard and cruel. She pushes you to reach hire and dream bigger. You are never afraid to ask her to back you up because you know she won’t stick a knife in you when you least expect it and it will hurt the most. FFF are there to help you survive the critics and naysayers. They help to make life sweet. Make time for the things you enjoy and the people you love because, my darlings, that is truly where the sweet life lies. DolceDolce is free. And please forward us to all your friends. And please follow us on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/pages/dolcedolcec#om/215363998481866. We post new items and tips weekly, except during our annual posted hiatuses.  Please give us your comments by emailing us at the same address or sharing in Facebook – we will respond! We want to know what you think. Let’s start the conversation!  

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Gracey Hitchcock

Editor, DolceDolce

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Girl time!

A relaxing spa can be the ideal place to spend quality time with a friend or two.
When was the last time you spent quality time with a good friend? I don’t do that as often as I used to, and sadly not as often as I would like.
According to experts, spending time with good friends is a boon as well as being enjoyable. A new study out of the UK, recently reported in the Huffington Post, found that children who experienced “unpleasant events” with their best friends produced lower levels of cortisol than those who experienced the same events alone. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can shorten your life. Cortisol is also responsible for adding fat around your middle. It is definitely not something you want to encourage!
In an article entitled An Alternative to Fight or Flight, Gale Berkowitz reported that," A landmark UCLA study suggested that friendships between women are special.” She reports, “They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are.” Can you think of a better reason to slow down and make time for your friends? I can’t.
So when my good friend and colleague Angela D'Amario and I had the opportunity to investigate the girl’s getaway at The Chattanoogan Hotel, we didn’t hesitate. We were both overdue for some serious R&R and catching up. Busy work schedules and a very nasty cold on my part had left us both tired and little stressed.
A relaxing spot to chatChattanooga is a pretty little city tucked away in the gorgeous Tennessee Mountains. It is an easy two-hour drive from Atlanta and the perfect destination for anyone looking for fall getaway with temperate weather and beautiful scenery.
Angela had visited Chattanooga before, but it was my first visit. I was charmed by the welcoming, walkable city. It was wonderful after driving in Atlanta’s traffic to be able to hand the car over the hotel’s valet and then forget about it for the duration of the trip. Restaurants, bars, festivals, shopping, and the amazing Tennessee Aquarium were all within walking distance or reachable by the free electric trolley from our hotel.
But darlings, we really didn't come for sightseeing, although we did visit the aquarium. And we had a lovely lunch at Nikos, a cute Greek restaurant on the south side of the city, before checking into the hotel. We came for the spa. As a career beauty editor, I can tell you that all hotel spas are not fabulous. Most of them are luxuriously appointed, but the level of services can vary. It is possible to get a mediocre massage or second-rate pedicure in very posh surroundings, but for a very steep price. I have experienced both.
The spa at The Chattanoogan is low-key, in keeping with the mountain setting. But don’t be fooled this is a serious spa with all the amenities and top-notch technicians, as Angela and I found out.
I had a combination deep tissue and sports massage to deal with my aching muscles. My massage therapist, Nicole, expertly zeroed in on the muscles I overuse in my daily workout, and she also worked on my achy joints. She was thorough, intense, and careful as she kneaded away my aches and pains. My massage also included a pumpkin scrub for my feet. Nicky also applied a moisturizing aqua pack to my face as she worked on my neck and shoulders to soothe my dry skin. It was heavenly.
Angela had the “nourishing facial”. The treatment was selected for her by her esthetician, Paula, based on questionnaires we filled out when arrived at the spa detailing. Angela told me Paula applied different anti-oxidants to her skin with a very gentle massage. She also massaged Angela’s neck, shoulders, hands, and feet. After the facial Angela's skin calm and glowing. Angela skin is prone to redness and Paula’s treatment was very effective. Paula also applied a collagen eye treatment which Angela said was an add-on to her facial.
Even the next day, we both still felt the benefits of our spa pampering.
After our afternoon of renewal we were so relaxed that it was fabulous not to have to leave the hotel for dinner. We headed down to the hotel’s restaurant, The Broad Street Grille. We were delighted to discover the emphasis on a farm-to-table menu featuring fresh local ingredients.
The service at the restaurant – and the hotel for that matter – was friendly and welcoming.  We were offered the choice of sitting at a regular table or the chef’s table, which is a bar that overlooks the kitchen prep area. The chef’s table would be a great option for a woman alone or a group of foodie friends would enjoy a bird’s eye view of the action. We opted for a quiet table for two.
We both started with an amuse bouche of a perfectly caramelized scallop on a bed of sweetly-stewed onions, butter, and herbs. The seafood was fabulously fresh and the perfect start to dinner. I then had the soup of the day, a delicious white bean soup redolent of smoky ham and herbs. It was perfect for a fall night.
A trio of mini crab cakes on an aioli type sauce and fresh greens from the appetizer menu followed the soup. The crab cakes were perfect. They were crisp and full of tasty fresh crab.
Angela grew up in Germany and she loves traditional pork dishes. She ordered the fresh local pork chop. She told me it was tastiest, juiciest pork she had in very long time. We both enjoyed the wine that we ordered by the glass. Neither of our selections was disappointing, as is so often the case with wine by the glass. There were several good choices of each varietal. We split the vanilla crème brûlée for dessert.
For me, a spa trip provides the perfect combination of bonding time and relaxation on a short getaway with girlfriends. A nice hotel with a great spa lets everyone relax and forget about driving and traffic for a day or two as well while indulging in some well-deserved pampering.
If you haven’t had time to catch up with your best friends lately why not try to plan a spa weekend, or at least an afternoon in spa heaven. It will do you a world of good. Just ask the experts.
The Chattanoogan Hotel has a Girls Just Want to Have Fun Package. It includes deluxe overnight for 2 nights with breakfast for 2 days, a spa lunch as well as a full menu spa pampering, and other treats.   It starts at $500 per person based on double occupancy.
The hotel has modern mountain decor with dramatic but cozy fire pits and many amenities.

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Show some skin

 Darlings, summer is the time to show some skin. I don’t mean to go to the office dressed for the beach, but this is time to feel the sun on your skin and strut your stuff. So spray on your sunblock, slide into a fab summer frock or pretty top, and let that summer weather work its magic. 
Everyone is talking about the book 50 Shades of Grey these days. Some call it ‘mommy porn.’ But all the women I talk to who have read it – ages 20 and up – agree that the romance in the story is the real turn-on. No one wants the whips and chains in 50 Shades of Grey.
So darlings, get out flounce about and generate some desire.  It helps to make life sweet.
Until next week, please sign-up if you haven’t already; email your info to domore@dolcedolce.comDolceDolceis free. And please forward us to all your friends. And please give us your comments by emailing us at the same address. We want to know what you think. Please LIKE us on FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/dolcedolcecom/215363998481866 Look for our logo! Let’s start the conversation!
Gracey Hitchcock
Photo by: www.yanka.ca

How to stay alive!

In a perfect world, you would never have to worry about looking over your shoulder or walking to your car late at night. There would be no date rape and no stalkers. But the world is far from being safe. Every day, women are raped, kidnapped, stalked, and murdered.
However, paying more attention to obvious danger signs could help keep you safer.
Do you put yourself in danger by focusing on a cell phone or texting when you are in the public? Could you ignore or not hear a predator because you are you so plugged in to a device? Do you broadcast personal information on Facebook, foursquare, or even your luggage tags? Does your publicly available personal information allow would-be attackers or thieves to track you or approach you with familiarity?
Do not ‘friend’ or social network with people you do not know, or who are not referred by friends. Check referrals. Keep your information private and never use viable labels on belongings.
It is better to post impressions and pictures after attending an event than during it, especially if you have left your home or apartment vacant. Always report any suspicious strangers. Do not worry about looking foolish. Always have your keys in your hand ready to open your door so you do not have to fumble in the dark looking for them. Never leave your car unlocked. Always park in safe, lighted areas. Never hesitate to get security to walk you late at night to your car or subway stop. Learn to scream loudly. It is harder than you think. Take a good self-defense course.
Never, overestimate the security screening of dating and social media sites. These sites are designed to make revenue, not protect you. They can be the perfect way for predators to approach and victimize young woman. Be cautious when meeting strangers, even in public. Remember, we know that many people lie about simple things like their height and age on dating sites, so they can lie about anything else, too.
In his must-read book ,The Gift of Fear: Survival signals that protect us from violence security expert Gavin de Becker points out that ignoring natural apprehension or fear from a sense of polities often gets young women killed.
De Becker, one of the leading U.S. experts on violent behavior, believes there are clues to violent behavior, as well as ways to protect yourself from it. Learning to be alert to danger and having respect for fear is empowering.
So darlings, learn to look up from your gadgets in public, sharpen up your senses, hone and resect your intuition, and read The Gift of Fear.
Finally, if a place or situation seems wrong, dangerous, or just off, leave right away. Do not let anyone tease you out of following your instincts. The worst thing that will happen if you are wrong is that you will get a good night's sleep. If they are wrong, you may end up dead.

You’ve come a long way bitch?

Pretty Kim and her sisters toss the word Recently, a smart, accomplished friend pointed out the proliferation of the word "bitch" in the title of popular books by and for women.
We just ran an item from the authors of Taming Your Alpha Bitch. I admit the title gave me pause, but the book did have excellent advice, so I decided to follow up with the authors.
I remember cringing when I first heard Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie call each other "bitches" in casual conversation on their reality show years ago. Their non-stop cursing was still enough of a novelty to raise eyebrows. Now the popular Kardashian sisters on their money- making reality franchise regularly refer to each other as "bitches". Titles like Skinny Bitch in the Kitch compete for slots on the bestseller list. I still recoil at the word, and heaven help the fool who calls me the "B-word."
And if we didn’t have enough trouble with the word "bitch," Rush Limbaugh upped the ante by declaring a woman a "slut" for simply advocating for the right of women to have access to contraception. The radio show host "apologized" after advertisers began pulling their sponsorships. I’m sure he was really sincere.
It is as unacceptable for Limbaugh to have called Sandra Fluke a slut, as it is for women to call each other "bitch." Words are too powerful to toss around as Limbaugh found out.
Growing up in the feminist era, I remember women who objected to being called babe, doll, honey, or sugar. Yet, this same generation loved the hip slogan (ironically used to sell unhip cigarettes) "You’ve come along way, baby". The ads featured a sexy, good-looking woman executive emerging from old-fashioned Victorian clothes. Now, bitch is casual parlance. Oh baby, what are women thinking?
Some of the young teachers in my exercise classes play hip-hop songs with lyrics that repeat the words "bitches" and "ho," with other female-unfriendly appellations and lyrics. I find it disheartening and unappealing, to say the least. It disturbs me that women do not see the disconnect between embracing words like bitch and ho and objecting to violence against women and other dangerous and demeaning behavior. Equally disturbing is how easily they embrace a "boy's-club" culture that abuses, discards, and demeans women.
Calling women bitches robs us of our power and our dignity. Think about what a man means when he calls someone "his bitch." It is not pretty. I am neither a priss nor a prude, but, darlings, I am nobody’s bitch.
When women call each other bitch, they also give license to the Limbaughs of this world to attack women even more.
Being a bitch, or being called a bitch, is never a good or fun loving thing. Using the B-word and embracing it does not rob the word of its power, but it may rob you of some of your power. Think about it. After all, you’ve come along way, baby.

Feel fabulous at any age or size –An action plan!

Emme and Gracey Hitchcock “A woman can’t always look younger, but she can always look elegant.” This wonderful quote is from an elegant woman named Joyce Carati. She happens to be 79 years old and looks fabulous. She’s featured in the blog Advanced Style about stylish older women that Ruth Cohen and her grandson Ari started.  

Ruth is 100 years old. She does Pilates and looks fit and fashionable. I love her beauty advice, which Elizabeth Arden inspired: “Take care of your skin. Make sure and moisturize … If you want to look like this when you are 40, start when you are 20."
The same week that Advanced Style came on my radar, I attended a lunch with Emme, the first plus-sized super model, at the home of environmental activist Laura Turner Seydel. Emme is back on the fashion and beauty scene after recovering from cancer. She has launched her own blog and online forum as a spokesperson for “self-acceptance.” The diverse group of women in the audience related to her message of accepting your size and reveling in your own unique beauty.
As I looked around the room, it hit me: women need more than cheerleaders and platitudes to feel good about themselves. They need an action plan!
Getting the most out of life takes work. If you slump and shuffle through life in an endless parade of shapeless garments, chances are you will never feel fabulous.
However, if you embrace style and fitness, and decide to cultivate beauty, you can be fabulous at any age or size. Darlings, if you doubt me just look around. You will find plenty of women who prove my point.
So, if you are feeling less than fabulous because you think you are too fat, thin, or old, here is an action plan to get to fabulous:
Get moving
Vigorous exercise three to five times a week can improve any body type. Join a class, or get a trainer or a workout buddy. Do not try to go it alone; you need to be accountable to someone. Get moving. It will elevate your mood too.
I love classes or personal training gyms. I go to barre classes five times a week. It’s addictive. For the record, I am not in the least athletic or sports-minded, but I am fit. Ruth Cohen has been doing Pilates for 20 years, since she was 80!
Find a stylish friend or mentor
If you feel like a schlub, you are probably dressing wrong. There are fabulous clothes these days for all sizes, styles, and budgets. Not everyone one is born with style, but you can “borrow“ it until you develop it. Buy fashion magazines. Look for ones that have clothes for your body type. Marie Claire and Glamour have excellent plus-sized columns.
The Internet has good style blogs for all body types. Find one you like and study it. Find a good sales person. Many sales people are frustrated stylists who love to dress people. Do not shop in a hostile environment, ever. If a store makes you feel badly about yourself, leave!
If you can afford it, shop where they offer personal shopping, but interview for someone you really like. You know you have found the right person when you feel fabulous in your clothes.
Get a good haircut and colour if you need it
Ask friends with have great hair whom they use. Go for a consultation. Again, don’t settle for “good enough”. Never let someone you don’t like do your hair just because they have a great reputation. You need to feel good at your salon.
You deserve great hair, so keep looking. It took me — a professional beauty editor – three years to find the right salon in Atlanta. The right haircut and colour can take years off your face. A bad cut and colour can make you look worn and tired at 25.
Eat well and sleep
Darlings, I am not going give you another diet. There are scores of good ones. If you’re eating and your issues are emotional, get help with what’s really bothering you. If you need a diet, try one until you a get fit. We publish good food and diet info weekly.
Sleep seven to eight hours a night. If you sleep much more you may be sick or depressed, so see a doctor now! If you sleep less, it will age you and it may even make you fatter. Turn off, unplug, and relax.
Enjoy the process
Learn to enjoy fashion. Experiment with clothes and makeup. After all, darlings, you are your own work of art. Make time to try a new lip-gloss and budget for a new pair of boots. Try out new makeup trends with a mini makeover at the counter of your favourite brand. Make an appointment. Take a friend so you won’t be tempted to buy more than you really want.
Tune out negativity
Surround yourself with secure, life-enhancing people. Recently, a gorgeous friend told me she got upset when a woman she knows asked her pointedly why she was wearing white after Labour Day. My friend — a slim, stylish blonde — was wearing cream cords; she looked fabulous. Winter white also happens to be a very hot trend now. I suspect my friend’s good looks threatened the "fashion critic”, who then tried to shake her confidence.  That is exactly what I told my cute friend. I also told her to she might want avoid catty women.
Often people succeed because they have a talent for tuning out negativity. Darlings, sadly the world is full of unhappy, envious people who will — if you let them — pick you apart to give themselves a boost. Avoid them. They are soul destroying.

Reinvent yourself!

Darlings, it has never been more important to be able to reinvent yourself. People who want to label you really want to control and restrict you, so avoid them. Life is sweet when you are free to become the woman you always wanted to be. 

Until next week, please sign-up if you haven’t already. Email your info to domore@dolcedolce.com. DolceDolce is free. And please forward us to all your friends. And please give us your comments by emailing us at the same address. We want to know what you think. Please LIKE us on FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/dolcedolcecom/215363998481866 Look for our logo! Let’s start the conversation!
Gracey Hitchcock
Photo by: www.yanka.ca
© DolceDolce® 2011
All DolceDolce content is copyright


You’ve probably seen and enjoyed Vicky Tiel’s work for years, without even realizing it. She has designed and made clothes in Paris for 40 years, longer than almost any other designer.

Tiel conjured up the incredible red dress Julia Roberts wore to the opera in the movie Pretty Woman, and has remade the same, aptly-named Torrid design in different colours for Joan Collins, Emma Samms and Catherine Zeta Jones – just to name a few. The dress still sells well, but that isn’t the half of it.

Vicky Tiel and her partner Mia Fonssagrives launched the miniskirt and lace panty hose in Paris in 1965. They wore miniskirts in New York years before they were seen in Europe. And Mia and Vicky – as their label was known — showed their mini collection a full season before Mary Quant, who is often credited with the sexy design.
If you think Diane von Furstenberg invented the wrap dress – think again. Vicky Tiel credits American designer Claire McCardell with creating the modern wrap dress in the 1950s. But Vicky and her partner sold many of their patterned mini-wrap dresses in the 1960s long before Diane’s famous dress. The designs were adorable and featured in top fashion magazines. I remember my grandmother making me dresses that resembled those designed by Mia and Vicky. She copied them from the magazine pictures I would bring her. I felt fashion’s pull from an early age. I loved the cute colourful baby-doll style minis and tights.
As I read Tiel’s fabulous new autobiography, It’s all about the Dress: What I Learned in 40 Years about Men, Women, Sex and Fashion, I was stuck by two things: First, how much she had influenced fashion with her minis, wrap dresses, cat suits, and hot pants; And second, how fearless she is. This is one woman who makes the most of life and continuously reinvents herself.
Tiel’s story is riveting. She states she was born obsessed with fashion. She recounts how after high school her father explained to her the importance of making her own money so she would never have to submit to, or beg from, a man. After high school, Vicky attended Parsons School of Design where she met her future partner Mia Fonssagives. 
Like Vicky, Mia was rebelling against the formal structured designs of the 1950s that were still being taught. The young women made form-fitting, sexy, modern clothes that would come to define fashion in the following decades.
Although the two women could not be more different, they were soon fast friends and began designing together. Vicky was independent and scrappy, as well as a born entrepreneur. A Greenwich Village hipster, Vicky had already been selling her own designs for $125 each — serious money in the early 1960s. Mia was the product of a sheltered and privileged upbringing. She was the daughter of super-model Lisa Fonssagives and her stepfather was the famous photographer Irving Penn. Her family was very famous, private, and over-protective. They were also very well connected in the world of fashion.
Upon arriving in Paris, the famous super model Dorian Leigh gave Vicky and Mia an immediate entrée into world of couture. Dorian had married several wealthy and influential men. She taught Vicky how to move through European society and how to cook French food.
Shortly after making a splash in the papers with the launch of the Mia and Vicky fashion line, Vicky met and fell in love with her future husband Ron Berkeley, who was Richard Burton’s makeup man as well as the top makeup artist at MGM studios.
From then on, Vicky and Ron were a couple, and part of the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton entourage. Through it all, Vicky kept designing and selling clothes, first with her partner Mia as "Mia and Vicky," and later under the Vicky Tiel label (Mia ultimately left the business to pursue art). Elizabeth Taylor was her partner when she opened her own shop.
Liz Taylor, Vicky Tiel, and her (now -ex) husband Ron Berkelry at her wedding receptionVicky designed clothes for the movies and dressed the stars and society. She made her dear friend Liz Taylor’s dresses for years and even designed the actress’s famous caftans. She also dressed Joan Collins, Bianca Jagger, Goldie Hawn and even Kim Kardashian. Her sexy body-conscious gowns and dresses are still selling today at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.
As I read her book, I was struck by how Tiel adapts and learns from life. She shares her personal philosophy as well as basic, but good recipes. She is a remarkably resilient woman who meets disappoint, infidelity, and other disappointments with optimism.
Tiel shares stories of meeting the legendary Coco Chanel and winning her over. Chanel taught her never sell the rights to her name or perfume, two lessons that have served her well. Chanel was very bitter over having sold her valuable perfume line. Vicky later shared this wisdom with her friend Liz Taylor, who made millions from perfumes that still sell today.
Tiel recounts her meeting with the legendary costume designer Edith Head early on in her career. Edith taught her how to find a niche and defend it. Tiel’s book is full of similar meetings and a subsequent list of tips – all of them valuable.
It’s all about the Dress: What I Learned in 40 Years about Men, Women, Sex and Fashion is a riveting, gossipy read. The pages are littered with bold –type names and amusing and outrageous anecdotes from the swinging sixties and sexy seventies. It is also smart book, written by a savvy successful woman. I love this book because Vicky Tiel talks about being successful in non-corporate ways on her own terms. Throughout all the fun romps, she always works and builds business. She is always on the lookout for an opportunity to change, grow, and learn. Vicky Tiel is fearless in her pursuit of the good life and success.