The Sunday Salon: Summer Reading, Summer Fashion

The Sunday

It’s not Sunday, but since I’ve got a full weekend, I’m posting my Sunday Salon piece early.

As of this evening, I have only one more Elin Hilderbrand novel left to read. It’s her most recent The Island, and I’m both eager and afraid to begin. Eager because I’m really enjoying my virtual summer on Nantucket via her works, and afraid because if it’s disappointing, or too short or anything like that it will be as bad as a storm wrecking an actual vacation.

Okay, so maybe not that bad.

I’ve noticed that Hilderbrand’s female characters are always three-dimensional, but her male characters are not so well drawn. They could be mannequins from high-end big and tall clothing stores, each in a different color (mainly pastel) polo shirt and pressed khaki pants and topsiders – the quasi-uniform of men in technology and men with summer homes on coastal islands.

My husband also lives in polo shirts and khaki pants, but unlike the men in Hilderbrand’s novels, his are not pastels. Instead, they are dark: black, grey, forest green, navy blue. He has four sets: those made out of sturdy cotton blends, those made out of lighter cotton blends (and which he says are too ‘flimsy’ for work, though the softer cloth fits his slight form better), those with his own company’s logo on front, and those with the logos of his vendors – Cisco, Foundry, etc.

He never wears the vendor shirts anywhere nice – like me, he has a strong aversion to wearing anything with writing on it outside the house. The few exceptions for him are the shirts from ThinkGeek – one refers to Firefly the other to Star Wars in gently humorous, inoffensive ways. For me, the exceptions are vintage rock band t-shirts and the artsy tees from foreign Hard Rock Cafes. The long sleeve, but lightweight, Tokyo shirt is one of my favorites, and the Hong Kong one is a fave as well. (Both, btw, are designed in much the same way as a vintage rock band t-shirt.)

The women in Hilderbrand’s novels also get better clothes than the men: she name drops designers that are represented by her characters – everything from Kate Spade to Diane von Furstenberg, and from Donna Karan to Liz Claiborne to – for teens – Juice Couture.

Summer novels are great escapes. Through them you can imagine yourself eating grapes and organic cheese and sipping chilled chardonnay on a beach blanket with the Atlantic Ocean flirting with your toes, or you can flip a few pages and find yourself dressed in designer togs and dining at the hottest bistro in town, accompanied by an attractive, but not exciting, man in a pastel polo shirt.

Ahh, summer.