Archive for July, 2009


What’s in Your Purse?

purseAlthough the purse is a common object, carried over the arms and on the shoulders of millions of women of various ages and cultures around the world, there is a sense of mystique attached to each individual purse. Aside from carrying identification, keys and money, what’s in that purse?  Are those items speaking for us?

The topic seems to be  so fascinating, that people are writing books about it.

Check out  “It’s in the Bag: What Purses Reveal and Conceal”  by Winnifred Gallagher-

 What are people carrying in their purses and what do those contents reveal about us and about our times?


Playing With Cultural Differences

Lego Ad

As some of our recent entries have shown, summer is a time to think of travelling to new locales. Crossing cultures and the fascinating variations which can be observed are always of interest to us so today we’ll share a culturally themed observation and case study from The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille (p. 176-177).

“Lego, the Danish toy company, found instant success with their interlocking blocks in the German market, while sales foundered in the United States. Why? 

(American) children would tear into the boxes, glance fleetingly at the instructions (if they looked at them at all), and immediately set out on a construction project of their own. They seemed to be having a wonderful time, but they were as likely to build, say, a fort, as they were to build the automobile for which the blocks were intended.  And when they were done, they would tear their fort apart and start over from scratch. To Lego’s dismay, a single box of Legos could last for years.

In Germany, however, Lego’s strategy worked exactly as intended. German children opened a box of Legos, sought out the instructions, read them carefully, and then sorted the pieces by colour. They began building, comparing their assembly progress to the crisp, helpful illustrations in the instruction booklet, when they were finished, they had an exact duplicate of the product shown on the cover of the box. They showed it to Mother, who clapped approvingly and put the model on a shelf.    Now the children needed another box.”



A survey conducted among women between the ages of 16 and 65 determined that 87%  feel depressed or anxious after reading a fashion magazine…


Leaving on A Jetplane … air travel etiquette


Welcome Aboard!

Welcome Aboard!

We’ve spoken about being prepared for a stylish and relaxed trip … now we will address a few of the “speedbumps” along the way which can impede our relaxed progress. Here are a few plane tips for courteous travel:
1. As always, but especially in a confined environment, grooming and personal hygiene are essential … but taken care of before boarding. The goal is a fresh, clean smelling passenger, not one who reeks and sees fit to clip fingernails or apply perfume on board.
2. Headrest abuse: It is understandable that one seeks stability if up and about during a bit of turbulence but please try to avoid jostling, leaning, or propelling oneself down the aisle on other’s headrests. Fellow passengers don’t appreciate being interrupted, woken or worse, catapulted.
3. Do not listen to music so loudly that you interfere with your neighbour’s ability to read or listen to something of his or her own audio preference.
4. Treat the flight attendants politely even when there has been a misunderstanding – they will be more likely to treat you well in response.
5. Always speak with your seat mate in quiet tones so the entire airplane isn’t privy to your conversation.
6. Avoid prolonged conversation with your seatmate – not all travellers are keen on chatter with strangers. Respect his or her privacy – do not peer at reading material or laptop screens.
7. Do not overload or use more than your share of overhead storage space – do not distribute your goods throughout the plane either. Respect hand luggage guidelines for comfort AND safety.
8. Be a considerate recliner – when you recline, do so slowly so as not to surprise the person behind you, injure them, or bump a laptop or drink. If you are looking up into the person’s face, you have reclined too far. Judge how far you’d be comfortable with the person in front of you reclining to determine how far back to go. Err on the lesser side.
9. Plan your bathroom breaks so as to prevent frequent interruption of your neighbours. If you anticipate several trips to the bathroom during your trip, please book an aisle seat.
10. Avoid stampeding at boarding – no one will be left behind if they are in the waiting lounge.

Feel free to “air” your thoughts and share your in-flight faux pas list with our readers ….


Travel with Style

 Oh, the places you’ll go…But what to wear? If you’re anything like me, you dread that late-night  moment when you face the haunting hollow of your suitcase and wonder what on earth you should fill it with.

How to pack everything you need, without having to sit on your bag to close it? (been there, done that!)

First of all, do the math.  How long are you staying? For an overnight, you need at least two bottoms with two interchangeable tops.  For a long weekend, pack three tops and two bottoms.  The magic words here are “mix-and-match”.  For a week or more, plot head to toe outfits for five days. If you change accessories and rotate tops and bottoms, you will be prepared for 10 days.

Here are some quick tips on what to pack:


A chameleon item.

A tunic dress will slip over a bathing suit, but look good at night too with earrings and the right sandals. Or a lightweight cardigan..It can be worn on its own for day or left open with a tank underneath for evening.



Invest in tissue-weight cottons and cotton-nylon blends, in a variety of shapes and neutrals. They are wrinkle free and great wardrobe basics. Wear the crew under a jacket during the work meeting, then on its own.



Pack black shoes to match your wardrobe basics and a color or metallic pair.  Either will work with black or brown clothes.  Flats are light and versatile – a great choice for travel (for during the flight as well).  A good summer option if you need a little heel, is a pair of wedges.


Jersey dress

Choose a good-quality classic cut in a bra-friendly version, with the hem ending at the middle of your knee. It will pay off for years as a travel basic. Dress it up with pearls and heels or dress it down with wedges and beads.



What packs better than denim? Choose a pair in a sophisticated wash and cut, add a personality jacket and flats, and you’ll be ready for cruising through Paris or Edmonton.


Don’t forget your book! One of my favourites this summer (birthday gift from Susan) –


Working on Etiquette – Office Manners

Executive search firm The Ladders conducted a survey of some 2000 US executives and concluded the following results released in April 2008 …

When asked to rate the worst affronts to office etiquette, survey respondents selected the following:

1. Eating someone else’s food from the fridge (97.8 percent)
2. Bad hygiene (95.6 percent)
3. Bad habits (88.2 percent)
4. Drinking on the job (85.7 percent)
5. Wastefulness with paper (82 percent)
6. Cooking smelly food in the office microwave (74.1 percent)
7. Sneaking peeks at the BlackBerry in meetings (63.5 percent)

Any surprises on that list? Any etiquette offences you didn’t see but have observed?


Kid Courtesy Counts!

j0262237 You sputter as you watch your son slurp his spaghetti through gaping teeth, letting the   loose ends linger and dangle like stalactites for the sheer benefit of the reflected horror in your eyes. Gosh,  it only seems like yesterday that you were bonding in Urgent Care over the pea up his tiny toddler nose … Teaching our children manners can be a long and sometimes arduous road. Tempting as it may be, whatever you do, don’t give up – even when the preaching, the nagging, the pleading becomes so repetitive you yourself aren’t listening to you anymore!

Studies abound proving again and again how important first impressions are – how they significantly influence decisions made about a person throughout his or her life and career, even from a very early age.  Finding ways for your children to understand the unwritten rules, the codes of conduct, and the subtleties of social communication will be the best gift you ever give them.

 In the end it’s not that they know which fork or spoon to use, it’s that they know so well that they can forget to worry about the flatware and concentrate on just being themselves, making the most of any situation they are in. Your reward will not just be in watching your children manoeuvre through a meal without emergency intervention, it will come when you overhear them confidently chatting with a shopkeeper or respectfully introducing themselves to a grandparent’s friend without your prompting.

 They will thank you – maybe not tomorrow and maybe not in a handwritten note (though they should know how!) but years from now after their first sports team billeting experience, when they land a coveted summer job … or when their future in-laws comment on how pleased they are to welcome such a gentleman to their family.  Your tireless efforts will be appreciated – guaranteed. Have faith!



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