I have come clean to so many character flaws in myself as time has gone by. By now, my affinity - perhaps even weakness - for the polished and fascinating host will not surprise you. Nor will it be particularly shocking to you that I have asked three handsome, elegant men to take us on a journey with them into their memories and thoughts on what makes a sexy hostess.
The first of three remarkably talented and elegant gentleman writers have arrived at Blushing Hostess and I am humbled to yield my page to this dashing host.
I give you E&E of the esteemed living-well blog, Easy and Elegant Life.
I hope you enjoy E&E's essay as much as I did.
Your Unsinkable Hostess
The Sexy Hostess, courtesy of Easy and Elegant Life
(You're the tops/you're cellophane.... sang Cole Porter. Although Ms. Bates application may not have been what he had in mind.)
Well, now I'm blushing... a gentleman never discusses....
But then, I'm not really a gentleman. Not in the classical sense of the word anyway... .
Wait a minute.
What am I doing?
This is a very interesting situation!
- Please give me my robe.
A man doesn't get in a situation like this every day.
I'd like to have my robe.
Not in Bedford Falls anyway.
- Ooooouch! Oh!
- George Bailey!
- This requires a little thought here.
So on to the question at hand: The Sexy Hostess. Let's lay out the ingredients and shake this thing into a cocktail, shall we?
Setting the stage. Sultry nights, whether spring summer, winter or fall begin and end with music. And the best bet here at the Manse involves muted trumpet, piano, and a brush on a snare drum. A breathy vocal doesn't hurt, either. Background music, like candlelight can set the mood and make you feel like a million bucks, helping to bring out your best qualities.
Motivation and business. What are some of the qualities of the sexy hostess?
Do you know the story of Emma Peel of "The Avengers"? When the writers were trying to name the character, they were told that she had to have "male appeal" ... "M" appeal was the abbreviated note on a writer's pad. Ms. Peel is a fairly good starting point for us to examine what makes a hostess sexy.
Intelligence, first and foremost. It's nice to be able to weigh in with an opinion on just about any topic. Wit, which relies on the the former. A sense of fun and the ability to REMAIN CALM! Rather, I should say the ability to remain unruffled despite unforeseen disasters, or just the ordinary hassles of giving a dinner party. Answering the door, completely unflustered, wearing your best cocktail dress and a smile sets the tone for the rest of the evening.
Well-dressed, there's a subject near and dear to my heart. It starts with fit, even if trendily dressed, our hostess knows her body type and what works for her and more importantly, what doesn't. I enjoy seeing a woman who is beautifully clothed, bejeweled and coiffed. I've also been smitten by a barefoot gamine in jeans and a borrowed buttondown shirt. But I was about 20 then. These days, it is the woman who has taken the time to prepare for the evening who stirs my pulse.
In real life terms, Mrs. Simpson, Wallis Duchess of Windsor, was the model of the sexy hostess.
(Source: Victoria and Albert Museum -- vandaprints.com -- and used without permission.)
Mrs. Simpson did not waste her time writing cookery books, for she had better things to do. Of all the hostesses of her day, she must rate as the most successful, in that her aim was clearly defined. She set out to please and entertain the Prince of Wales, and in this she succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. In social terms she was a brilliant figure, an instigator who enjoyed setting trends, and a perfectionist for whom no detail was too much trouble. She was always immaculately dressed, and proved herself well able to provide a stimulating ambiance, with witty repartee and first-rate food. In his diaries, Cecil Beaton describes going to sketch Mrs. Simpson shortly before the abdication, in her rented house in Regent's Park. After the session was over, they were joined by the King and Wallis's Aunt Bessy for a quick drink before going on to dine with Emerald Cunard. Even at this informal occasion, a silver tray was handed round bearing no less than nine different sorts of canapés, eight of them hot, to accompany the cocktails.
(Boxer, Arabella, Arabella Boxer's Book of English Food: A Rediscovery of British Food from Before the War, Hodder & Stoughton, 1991, pg. 22.)
Which brings us to confidence.
Wallis Simpson, was no great beauty, but she was bewitching to the Duke and she knew it. Confidence goes a long way.
On the subject of things that go a long way, the ability to mix a good cocktail, shaken or stirred is a must. Given the social whirlwind Mrs. E. and I sometimes inhabit, the sound of ice clinking in a glass, the pop of a Champagne cork or the rattle of the shaker being shaken is a siren's call. Remembering someone's preference for a certain drink is a big plus. It shows that some thought went into the evening.
To borrow an adjective from Broadway, a hostess must be "unsinkable." And by that I mean rarely does an evening go off as planned. If it does, hoorah! But when the soufflé falls, the chicken is undercooked, and the salad is limp, the sexy hostess will laugh it off -- with one of those throat-y Lauren Bacall, Lauren Hutton sorts of laughs if we're very lucky. (Insert low growl here.)
And laughter brings us, finally to fun. Need further proof? Rewatch the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" party scene. Would you like to be a sexy hostess? You will set the tone for the evening. Have fun with it.