The Cynthia Collection: One Designer’s Keen Eye on Design

Designer Cynthia Bigony is one of the most creative individuals I know. Her simplicity, grace, and sophistication dictate her design choices.

Last year Cynthia launched The Cynthia Collection–one of a kind belts and jewelry.

Cynthia’s belts are all about the exquisite re-moveable buckles which are made from all natural,  one of a kind materials– sliced agates, geodes, druzy crystals, fossils and petrified woods.


I love the natural, organic feel of the belt buckles, the natural elegance of each carefully selected stone, and the practicality of having a couple buckles that I can interchange.

Cynthia lovingly picks out each stone and finds herself attracted to the white crystals that swirl around inside the sliced agates. And there is a thoughtful reason for Cynthia’s selections. “In summer time, I like my belts to be worn with white jeans and sandals and in the winter with blue jeans or black corduroys and a white tee shirt.”

Cynthia’s jewelry became a natural extension of her one of a kind approach. Again, each stone of every earring is hand picked by Cynthia, and like her, is simply radiant.

The bottom stone is a druzy crystal and the top stone is a semi-precious faceted gem–the intent is contrast, shiny and rough–the look is playful.

The Cynthia Collection offers inexpensive accent jewelry that can be worn day or night.

When the sun hits the stones, they glitter and light up…


…just like Cynthia.

The Cynthia Collection is available at The Store  in Mill Valley, California.





Hipster or Oldster?

I am so sick of hearing the term ‘ hipster.’ I cant imagine how hipsters feel, but I suspect hipsters hate being called hip. Coming from a generation that remembers beatniks, hipsters sounds so, yes I will say it, yesterday.

If you want to see hip just look at Mick Jagger on the Ed Sullivan show in 1966 singing Paint It Black:

Jaw dropping. When he sings, he is so, well, sexy.

Look at what he is wearing!

The jacket with the epaulettes that tie ‘thingy’ around his neck, the turquoise ring on his finger, his shoes, and those skinny trousers. OH Mick, we appreciate you even more now than in 1966.

If you are not the very definition of a hipster, I don’t know who is.

If you look back on the style of dress during this period of the British Invasion, anything and everything was free game as long as you wore it with conviction!

No one styles with conviction better than Mick!

Being hip is like being popular. You can’t try to be either. You must be who you are, embrace it, even at 50, and wear it, shake it, for G-d’s sake scream it…like the Rolling Stones.

A secret hipster lies in each of us. Take chances. TODAY! Fail. Smile. Laugh. And get back up and try again.

I never thought of Janis Joplin as a fashion icon–but she was.  Her music rocked us, moved us, her death jolted us, saddened us.

But look at these amazing photos of Janis. The smile, the big round glasses. Check out her choice of pants, of coats, of bracelets and rings.

You will always be the real deal Janis. And I would never, ever call you a hipster. Just JANIS.

Remember Mary Quant, the Welsh fashion designer and British fashion icon? They called her the very heart of the “mod” fashion movement. She is one of the designers who took credit for the miniskirt and hot pants.

I love that Ms. Quant knew that by promoting these and other fun fashions she encouraged young people to dress to please themselves and to treat fashion as a game.

So what would Mary Quant say to the generation she encouraged to wear miniskirts as we turn 50?

I like to believe she would say to continue to have fun with fashion and wear your clothes with conviction!



Shoes:  Doc Martin’s (from way back)

Paints: Eileen Fisher (Petite) never been petite in my life

Blouse and Bustier Bra: American Apparel

Bracelets: H&M

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A Quick Change for a Quick Drink

I had forgotten about the cocktail party I had to attend this evening.  So, like every other woman in the world, I went for my LBD (Little Black Dress).

Turn around time here was about ten minutes.  I barely have time for a picture, and I will do my makeup in the car.

My LBD is a Dolce and Gabbana I bought on sale at Neiman Marcus. The shoes are classic Gucci.  I have one pair I have worn for at least five years.

Sometimes I wear really baggy clothing to cover up my figure.  I’m not sure that is the right thing.  This dress shows my curves. Not sure that’s the right thing either.  But either way I’m going for it.

I dress this outfit down with my Tiffany Elsa Peretti silver mesh earrings and necklace. There is nothing worse than being over-dressed.

Okay, I am really sucking it in in this shot. Could use a pair of Spanx, but they are just too uncomfortable.

And in case I get self conscious about my arms, I am bringing along the silk scarf I bought in Como this summer.

I’m off.

Baring All

Just like kitchens, people come in all shapes and sizes. I am not petite. Never have been, never will be. And now I am finding I have so many things to cover-up as I try to adorn my body with the right clothing.

Shopping has stopped being fun for me. Now it is just work!

There are my arms–too flabby. My waist used to be small and now it has that middle-aged bulge. And I have never liked my wide shoulders or my thick calves. Come to think about it, I am not sure I like anything about my body…but I still want to try and look good.

So I am going into my closet for a bare all show and tell.

I approach my closet with fear.

Today feels like a fall day. I’ll slip on my Gap corduroy “sexy boyfriend” low rise jeans. They are relaxed in the hip and thigh but have a tapered leg. And they are stretch, thank G-d!
Love the color. I hope I can carry it off.

I guess this is my ” Up against the wall!” look!

The top has a nice neckline that deemphasizes my wide shoulders and the long sleeved arms cover my flabby biceps.

I love the brown short boots I bought at Macy’s. And the Jeff Gallea belt.

Belt: Jeff Gallea
Boots: Marc Fisher at Macy’s
Shirt: Stiletto at Lindisima (Greenbrae, California)

Easy, Bold and Clean

Kitchen design comes in all shapes and sizes.  As I have gotten older, I like things a bit more streamlined.  I used to love the country look, and I still do.  But for right now, I have been enjoying my simple kitchen.

The open shelving has been fantastic to use.  One step away from the dishwasher, I save time, really I do, taking the dishes out of the dishwasher and putting them up on the open shelves.  I hate taking out dishes. This helps.

I love the limestone backsplash and the thick shelves.  It gives the kitchen a certain weight and importance.  After all, it is the centerpiece of most homes. The island has a travertine countertop and the island is made of dark, fumed oak.  The rest of the kitchen cabinets are painted an off white.

I love my kitchen garage. I never knew a kitchen could have a garage, but this makes so much sense.

I stick my crap inside and close the stainless steel door to hide it all.

It’s simple, modern but doesn’t feel too cold.  I think it is the use of organic materials like the limestone, travertine and wood that warms it up.

The kitchen opens up to the family room and then to the outside.

Come over for some pie someday soon.  Mit schlag, of course.

Bright and so Patricia!

Patricia loves color. It goes back to her Provençal roots or maybe she just
likes to add color to the foggy days that we see in San Francisco.

Here she looks playful with her Anthropologie dress of many colors. It’s easy to
wear but because it is so colorful, Patricia keeps her accessories to a minimum.
She contrasts the sweetness of the dress with a modern twist–an orange rawhide

Check out her shoes. The designer, Castaner, is Spanish and she picked them up
in Barcelona for $170 Euros.

Dress from Anthropologie

Rawhide bracelet from Francesca’s: :$12.00

Eye Protection, Accessory, or Invisibility Cloak?

That’s a photo of me.  I’m Terry Castle and I’m the veteran blogger in the group.  I have blogged about my kids’ leaving home, the “B” horror novels I published last year, and now I am back with Mit Schlag and ready to have an adventure.

The photo was taken in late August at dusk at a wonderful restaurant called Al Venuu in the town of Tremezzo, overlooking Lake Como. The food was amazing but the view was spectacular.

I really didn’t need my sunglasses but they offer so many different services to me.  First, they protect my eyes from too much light, they hide the loose skin hanging over my eyes, and they keep me protected from the outside world, or so I think. I have no idea why I think my sunglasses are my “invisibility cloak,” but I do.

I bought my glasses at SEE Eyewear in San Francisco for $90.00. I usually wear black sunglasses, but I decided to try something different.

Meet Patricia Blanc. She is fearless. She is originally from Aix-en-Provence and she always has a pair of sunglasses on her lovely face.  I asked her why.

“If I wear my sunglasses I can pretend it’s sunny every day.”

Patricia is writing this blog with me. And it’s a good thing ’cause she is always styling.  In the posts that come you will see her sense of style. So very French.

Together we popped into Rims and Goggles, an eyewear store in Mill Valley, California.  Why am I not surprised that Patricia found the newest French eyewear designer, Carolin Abram.

She fell for the “Elfea” style. For $525.00, Patricia can feel like the sun is constantly shining down on her.  But after you get to know Patricia you will know that regardless of her sunglasses, the sun always shines down on her.

Joan Dauria is my Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis.  I think she is lot of people’s Jackie O. Look at those cheek bones! Here she is styling a pair of “Dita” sunglasses she bought in Westport, Connecticut–at Westport Specs.  She tried something new with the tortoise shell frame. It suits her well, don’t you think?

Joan, too, wears her sunglasses to protect her light-sensitive eyes. She also has gotten quite used to her sunglasses for all the Greek Island hopping she has done.  See, so much in common with Jackie O.

When Joan was a kid she does remember Jackie sporting her infamous large round black framed sunglasses and her Hermes scarves.  Jackie O’s sense of style rubbed off on Joan!

I can’t wait to share more of Joan’s passions for life, for travel, for food, for knowledge. Joan is a consultant and executive coach. You can find her company at

We’re lucky to have her on board.

To know Juliette Ambatzitis is to love her, no is to adore her. Her style mimics her graceful, whimsical, charming personality. I promise that you will all fall in love with Juliette through these posts.

When I asked Juliette why she wears her Ralph Lauren sunglasses that she bought at Nordstrom’s, she immediately said’ “To protect my little eyes.” She quickly added, “Also, they look cool! ” Everything looks cool on Juliette.  But when pressed she confessed to wearing sunglasses so she could spy on people without being caught. Juliette is always curious about the world around her.

And the world around her is curious about Juliette. A few years back famed photographer and New York columnist Bill Cummingham snapped a photograph of Juliette for his “On the Street” column for the New York Times. He just liked her style. So will you.

Juliette ran a Traverna in Rhodes for 15 years–Xenomania!   I am sure, in posts to come, we will hear loads of stories about her life running a restaurant on a Greek Island.

Today Juliette works as the assistant to Isabel Allende.

So now you have met the women of Mit-Schlag even if you haven’t yet seen our eyes.

I promise you will.