Time-travel Monday: What would you wear? (and a birthday shout out)

time travelThis weekend, the Starz network launched its miniseries of Diana Gabaldon’s time-travel series “Outlander,” about a World War II nurse who falls through a circle of standing stones in Scotland and finds herself in the Highlands of the 1700s. Thus begins a story that weaves history, romance and time travel in a most entertaining web.

I had heard of the books throughout the years, but never got around to reading any. But when a friend earlier this year mentioned that Starz was bringing it to the small screen, I made haste to view a preview clip. And was intrigued enough that I got my hands on the original book, “Outlander,” and set to work.

As some of you may know, Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue gets a mention early in the novel. Here is the passage:

I picked up the bottle of L’Heure Bleu and poured a generous puddle into the palm of my hand. Rubbing my hands briskly together before the scent could evaporate, I smoothed them rapidly through my hair. I poured another dollop onto my hairbrush and swept the curls back behind my ears with it.

time travel 2Well. That was rather better, I thought, turning my head from side to side to examine the results in the speckled looking glass. The moisture had dissipated the static electricity in my hair, so that it floated in heavy, shining waves about my face. And the evaporating alcohol had left behind a very pleasant scent. Frank would like that, I thought. L’Heure Bleu was his favorite.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1, “A New Beginning”. Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

So that got me thinking: If I were to time travel, where would I want to go, and what would I wear there?

I am rather too attached to modern conveniences to go very far back, but think I might visit the late 1940s, as I do like much about the era, including the fashion, music, etc., and of course, the perfumes available then; many of which would become the vintage scents we love now. I would snap up some Mitsouko extrait, were it available, and wear it to feel classic and polished; also Patou’s Vacances would be readily at hand and I could spray it with abandon for instant happiness. And if possible, I would bring some back to share. 🙂

What about you — to what era would you travel and what scents would you wear there? And have any of you read the “Outlander” series or have you seen the series premiere this weekend? What are your favorite time travel reads?

P.S. Want to wish a very, very happy 14th birthday to my son, who also just started the eighth grade!!

  • Yes, a regret for the past. Years ago I had bought a small purse size of Nacre by Patou. I didn’t buy more because I had other opened bottles of perfume, never guessing that it would be discontinued. Today I got a bottle and I am in love. This fragrance is a knockout; the perfect tool for seduction.

  • Suzanne says:

    Ann, sorry to be belated, but here’s wishing your son a very Happy Birthday and a great year in 8th grade. If I could go back in time, I’d like to go to the 20s so that I could see that decade when my paternal grandmother felt so free and alive. After that, I’d like to go back to the 70s, because those were my childhood years and I still love the music and fashions, the Bonnie Bell lipglosses and Seventeen magazines, even the drugstore perfumes (Loves Baby Soft, anyone?). 😉

    • Ann says:

      Oh, thank you so much, sweet Suzanne! I agree heartily — it would be so much fun to revisit the ’70s, and knowing what we know now, we could have such a blast! And thanks for the smile about Bonne Bell (loved their Dr Pepper lip smacker) and Love’s Baby Soft, and I remember being pretty crazy about the Love’s Rain scent as well.

  • Ann says:

    Thanks so much, Mals! And congrats to your eighth-grader — can they really be going into high school next year? Yikes! So happy to see another ’20s Coty fan and “Outlander” as well. I’m now nearing the end of the next-to-last book and have to say, I’ll be sorry to see it end. But maybe she’s got another book up her sleeve? If that’s impossible, please don’t tell me; I don’t want to cry. 🙂
    Do look into the Starz package. With our provider, it was $14 a month and I figure I’ll only need it for two months, then will consider getting it again when the next installment airs in 2015.
    BTW, that’s very smart of your school system; wish ours would do something like that.

    • malsnano86 says:

      I mailed the most recently-published book to my 19-yo in Louisiana where she was doing an internship all summer… and I’m happy to tell you that there will be at least one more book after that one!

      I think I could add Starz for about $9/month to our current package. Hmm. Will have to look into it.

      The early-start schedule is a trial period this year, so we’ll have to see how things go. But I imagine it will be helpful. I’ll report back. 🙂

  • malsnano86 says:

    As I just said, I wanna go with Musette and snap up all the early Cotys I can get my hands on in the 1920s. Brief visit only, though. 🙂 (Can I stay long enough to have tea with Aunt Violet at Downton?)

    I discovered the first Outlander book when I was nursing my first baby and spending a LOT of time sitting on the couch with my arms full of kid. I read a lot anyway, but nursing time was prime fiction time for me! In any case, I got hooked fairly early and have read all the books multiple times. Saw the premiere online and am thinking of adding Starz while the series is showing – the first episode, as many are saying, started rather slow. However, since I’m familiar with the story, I think that was the right approach. Casting seems good – except for what I’ve seen of the MacKenzie brothers. Dougal in particular is a great deal older in the series than he is in my mind. (“I don’t hold wi’ rape. And we’ve not the time for it, anyway.”) When that baby I was nursing back then turned 18, I told her she could read them as well. She loves them.

    Classes start here on Friday – the idea is that the first semester (and particularly the standardized testing for first semester classes, since we do a block/semester schedule rather than a 7-period, all-year) will be finished before Christmas, so that we won’t have the issue of kids forgetting material and being unprepared after a two-week break over the holidays. Happy birthday to your 8th grader! My youngest starts 8th grade this week as well.

  • Jaime says:

    I read the first 2 or 3 Outlander books — the attention to detail is amazing. Definitely makes me grateful to have running water and modern medicine! Has anyone seen the TV mini series so far? Any good?
    I would love a short time travel visit to the 1920s, just to tag along with some flappers, and steal spritzes of their perfumes.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Jaime! Loved your time-travel agenda, especially the part about stealing spritzes of the flappers’ perfume! I’ve watched the first episode of Starz’ “Outlander,” and so far, so good. A few critics have complained about the slow-ish pace and that they spent too much time in the ’40s, but they needed to firmly establish the story, especially if you’ve got people watching who haven’t read the source material. They’ve kept some of the wry humor of the book and Claire, Jamie and Frank seem well-cast. I think Starz or someone has the premiere up so you could watch it for free. I decided to splurge and add Starz to our package, just for the two months that the series will run in 2014. Then we’ll see when they pick it back up in 2015.

  • Musette says:

    Quick visit back to Belle Epoque and the early 20s Paris, here, too. Quick visit. as in “run in, grab all (ALL) the Cotys – eat a chocolate sable or two – and get the hell out.

    ALL THE COTYS. Francois may have been barking mad (and somewhat unpleasant, if stories told are true) – but he really knew what he was doing with perfume. xoxoxoA

    • Ann says:

      Too funny, darling! I love it — go back, grab the good stuff and get out FAST!!

    • malsnano86 says:

      Can we get matching tickets? We will go and buy all the Cotys ALL ALLLLL OF THEM. All of them. (Even now, with most of them age-damaged, there is something about the old Cotys that just grabs at my heart.) I might pick up a bottle or two of Apres l’Ondee as well.

      • jett says:

        I as thinking Id kill for some real Emeraude,m y high school fave. Any time after antibiotics and tampax, my mom says!

        • malsnano86 says:

          The nice thing about Emeraude is that you can still find some of the good stuff for not too expensive a price! Ebay. Parfum de Toilette. (Especially if it’s still in the box.) Orientals don’t seem to suffer from age as much as other fragrances do, I think.

        • malsnano86 says:

          (Whoops, hit Reply too soon!)

          I agree, after antibiotics and tampons would be good. 🙂

          • Ann says:

            I agree with you both, but am happy to say that I’m no longer in need of the T word. But a few years back, I’d have been time-traveling with them AND with a big ol’ bottle of Advil, ha!

  • Stylistically, I think I’m most drawn to Paris during the Belle Epoque era (turn of the 20th century) and the 1920s, in Paris or New York. Wouldn’t want to live in either era, of course, what with the whole not really having rights thing (women in France didn’t get the right to vote until 1945. 1945!!!! Seriously!).

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Jennifer! Those would be beautiful eras to visit, but as you said, no thanks to living there then. I didn’t realize it was 1945 for French women, grrrrr …

  • teri says:

    I’d enjoy making a short visit to the post-WWII years. I would chafe mightily against the constraints on women and minorities back in those days (hence the short visit). but I love the New Look fashions and the scents of that time and have always enjoyed travel by train.

    Living in the midst of a time where the American economy keeps faltering and the classic “American Dream” of home ownership and a stable working life that allowed one to succeed with hard work and be secure in the knowledge that you could educate your children and that they would have a better life is nothing but a happy memory, I’d like to revisit a time when America was on top of the heap, when industry was humming, when you took a job as a youngster in full expectation that you would retire from that same company, safe and secure with a comfortable pension. Of course I’m not unaware of the problems of the era, not least of which was the pervasive undiagnosed PTSD that left young veterans with psychological issues and in many cases thinly disguised alcoholics.

    Ok, that veered off a wee bit too dark, didn’t it?

    On a happier note, best wishes to the birthday lad, and hope he isn’t too aggrieved at having to go back to school on his birthday. 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Thanks so much, Teri! I agree with you — a short visit would probably be best. I would be mad as a wet hen at much of what was going on then and would probably end up in a whole lotta trouble. Because when i see injustice, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut, ha!

  • Kandice says:

    While I think it would be great fun to visit other times, I think I would most like to go back to a younger version of myself but with my current wisdom. Maybe I could make some things better than they’ve turned out :-). Hope you son has a great day!

    • Ann says:

      Thank you, Kandice, he did! You are so right — going back to youth with the wisdom of age would be wonderful. The old school of hard knocks does work in the end, but it would be so nice to avoid some of the roadblocks we hit head-on, right?

  • Ann, I found this from Cleopatra’s Boudoir (dot blogspot); hope it’s okay that I’m referencing it here ~ (Yes, imagine a whole boxful of those tiny glass tubes! I didn’t know where to start…of course, there was no “resealing” one, once you’d broken off the end!
    Saturday, April 27, 2013

    Mai Tai by Browny was launched in 1950.

    I have a vintage perfume nip of Mai Tai in which I was able to do a review on.

    So what does it smell like?

    This is a light floral fragrance for women,I can detect notes of aldehydes, oakmoss, vetiver, civet, amber, benzoin, vanilla, sandalwood and muguet. I dont detect any sort of “tropical” flowers like frangipani or ylang ylang but there is a floral note in there, smells a little like jasmine. layered over vanilla.

    Interesting! That was the only name that stuck with me…now I’d like to find out more about these little curiosities!

    • Ann says:

      Cool, Anne! Thanks so much for reporting back — now we’ll all be investigating the nips phenomenon 🙂

  • Happy Birthday to your son! I would like to go back to the 50s (since I’m a 1957 girl) just to see what was available; alas, I have not smelled many “vintage” scents besides what sat on my Grandma’s dressing table and that,sadly,had turned, whatever it was…HOWEVER…when I was 9 or 10 – mid 60s – I remember wanting a set of “perfume nips”…I have no idea where I’d seen them; probably a Lillian Vernon catalog…but the were little actual GLASS vials that you BROKE the end off… (how dangerous…I can’t image them selling them!) and there was a tiny bit of perfume…I remember the names were printed on the glass tubes (some were unreadable)…the only one I recall was Mai Tai; and now I’m going to have to go look it up!

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, Anne! I’ve heard people talk about those perfume nips — I bet they were cute, although a wee bit dangerous, as you said. Mai Tai sounds interesting; do let us know if you find out anything more about them. We’d love to know.

  • Hi there Ann,
    I think I was born in exactly the right time and would be so annoyed without everything I currently have around me.
    Maybe just back far enough to stock up on some of the designer scents that are discontinued like Envy Men by Gucci, Gucci Pour Homme, pre-reform JAZZ and Kouros by YSL and I would grab armloads of Blonde by Versace and Trouble by Boucheron.
    Now that you have me thinking, it might be nice to go grab a bunch of Caron’s from their original too.
    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Portia! I hear you — I think it would be a challenge, and I know for sure that I would sorely miss air conditioning most of all, ha! But the ’70s and ’80s would be nice, as you say, to stock up on some of our faves before they were messed with or discontinued.

  • Nemo says:

    Happy birthday to your son! Eighth grade strikes me as an especially memorable (and sometimes trying) part of one’s life 🙂 I hope he enjoys it!

    To be honest, I am not sure I would be able to time travel very far back at all! I am also pretty attached to modern conveniences and technology. However, I do love reading about the past 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, Nemo! Middle school is most definitely a challenging time; other parents tell me that it does get better in high school, and I certainly hope so. You are right — it would be pretty tough to live without all our technology, but if it was only for a little while it might be OK, offset a bit by the availability of all those classic scents.

  • Caroline says:

    omg, please don’t tell us your son has gone back to school already! Wish him a happy bday from us Posse readers. I’d love to time travel back to the ’50’s to relish Edmond Roudnitska’s heyday and those Diors back when they must have been fabulous.

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Caroline! Yep, he went back on Aug. 7; and there were some school districts that went back on the 5th and 6th — it really is crazy. They do get out before Memorial Day, but I just don’t know if it’s worth it. Wouldn’t that have been grand to have all those great Diors (and more) at your fingertips? Ahhh …

  • Tiffanie says:

    I would love to return to the 40’s! My grandparents were young adults then, and they passed their appreciation for the music and culture of the era to my sister and me.

    That L’Heure Bleue scene from Outlander is fabulously memorable. I can imagine the luxury of combing out my hair with a palm filled with Guerlain fragrance. I would love to have been there then.

    I read the first two Outlander novels. Wonderful story-telling, but some of it is oh so gruesome. Gave me the vapors, and sent me running for my 4711 Eau de Cologne.

    • Ann says:

      Tiffanie, glad to see another “Outlander” and ’40s fan! I know no era is perfect, but that one had a lot going for it (and indoor plumbing, too — yay!!). I have to agree with you; sometimes the books had me wincing, but overall, the stories are so good and had me laughing up a storm at times. The author definitely knows how to paint a comedic picture.

      • Tiffanie says:

        The dialog between Jamie and Claire is often hilarious — bawdy, too. And heartbreaking. When Claire asks Jamie to tell her he loves her first to quell her fear that if she says it first she would never be able to stop saying it . . . sigh.

        Last night I was imagining a trip to a 1940’s drugstore for some fragrance sniffing. I bet the 5-and-dime store smelled more than a wee bit better then than it does today. I have an aunt who swears she used to buy Chanel No. 5 at Woolworth’s. 🙂

      • Tiffanie says:

        I was just thinking it would be funny if there were a series of Outlander fragrances . . . Eau Claire pour Femme and Jamie pour Homme. Then two flankers called Sassenach and MacKenzie.

        Ha-ha, I’m really stuck on this Outlander thing. I guess I need to read it again.

        • Ann says:

          Tiffanie, that’s a great idea! I think loyal readers definitely would be interested. I would be curious to know how extensive are the marketing plans for “Outlander” merchandise. I’ve already seen a couple of T-shirts and a “pocket Jamie,” plus some other stuff.