Author Topic: Fashionably Sisterly  (Read 203 times)

Eleanor Marshall

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Fashionably Sisterly
« on: November 05, 2018, 11:06:57 AM »
All over the modernised world, women of a certain class dreamed of shopping in Paris. Eleanor certainly had, but this was her first opportunity to do so. It would not be a long event today - there was a certain time constraint with the need to procure dresses and all accessories necessary for an evening at the Ritz - but it was a beautiful introduction to the boutiques of the French capital. And, of course, she was lucky enough to have Eliza Marshall to show her where to go.

If Eliza felt strange about showing her new sister around and helping her spend her money, she didn't show it. She was too excited and too happy to have a female friend in her life to let anything upset her. There was a certain amount of pride and even delight in being able to walk into the most exclusive boutiques with the knowledge that they wouldn't be chased away for lack of money. Even so, she didn't want to take advantage of Ellie's good nature and let the other woman do the haggling over prices.

"You know, I have never really been comfortable in flapper dresses," Ellie mused as she studied the exclusive racks in front of them. "I have thick ankles." This may have been patently absurd, but since she was wearing boots, it was difficult to ascertain.

"Oh, Ellie! Have you ever actually tried one on? It's so ... liberating!" Eliza pointed out, clearly favoring the fashion trend. She'd already bobbed her wavy hair in an attempt to stay in fashion and was eager to take it to the next level. "You don't need a corset," she whispered, almost conspiratorially to her companion.

"I haven't worn a corset since I turned twenty," Ellie admitted in amusement. "I was very quick to embrace the new brassieres." She chuckled, smiling at Eliza's enthusiasm. "I take it you would not favor me dressing like my mother this evening, then?"

Eliza's wrinkled her nose at that question, her answer obvious. "Definitely not! Why would you want to do that? You're far too young and pretty to dress like an old lady," she said, moving further into one of the shops to further inspect the array of dresses that were hanging on the racks.

"Modesty and the desire not to be noticed?" Ellie suggested with mild amusement, trailing along behind her sister-in-law. She had a feeling she was about to be talked into being a flapper for the evening.

"But you want James to notice, don't you?" Eliza countered, well aware that her brother would probably notice no matter how his wife was dressed. He'd grown accustomed to seeing her Ellie in pants; seeing her in a dress - especially one as scandalous as what the French had brought into fashion - was bound to catch his attention.

Ellie hesitated for a moment, a shy smile flickering on her face. It was true; she did want James to notice. Apart from one evening on a boat when she had worn her only evening dress to dinner, he had not seen her in anything that was not wholly practical and modest. Even her trousers were modest, cut wide in the leg to preserve her modesty where possible.

"Do you think he would like it?" she asked uncertainly.

Eliza laughed, as she looked over a vivid red dress done up with shiny beads and sequins. "Even if he doesn't, he'll definitely notice!" she pointed out. Though she wasn't bold enough to say so, she thought Eleanor should show off her assets, rather than hide them away. "What do you think of this one?" she asked, indicating the red dress.

"For you? Certainly." Ellie smiled, lifting the dress from the rack and holding it against Eliza. "With a bold red lip and a string of pearls ... yes, I can definitely see you in this."

"I meant for you," Eliza countered, giggling. "With your dark hair, you would look lovely in red. Besides, everyone knows that a redhead should never ..." She trailed off, laughing, as she realized that flappers needn't follow the rules or conventions of society.

"Darling, pink is the color you should be avoiding," Ellie told her with a warm smile. "But a bold, rich red that is more blue than yellow will absolutely flatter you, especially with your porcelain skin." She might not know much about fashion, but Ellie had dabbled in art. She knew color.

"You're right, of course," Eliza admitted, with a grin. She wasn't a true redhead, after all - more of an auburn brown - and she was obviously smitten with the red dress, even if she had tried to talk Ellie into wearing it. "Do you mind if I try it on?" she asked, glancing at the woman behind the counter, who nodded and waved her in the direction of a dressing room.

"Go ahead, I will find the perfect accessories for you to complete the look," Ellie told her, already turning to where another assistant was waiting to press the absolutely necessary finishing touches on her.

"But what about you?" Eliza asked, just before she disappeared into the dressing room, tugging at the curtain to give her some semblance of privacy.

"We can work on me when we have you looking utterly fabulous, darling," was the certain response as she disappeared from view. It took just a few minutes to put together the rest of the ensemble - shoes, bracelet, long string of pearls, wrap, sparkling headband - and barely a moment longer to hand the little parcel in through the curtain. Then Ellie returned to browsing the racks shyly as she waited.

Movement could be heard coming from behind the curtain, telltale sounds that Eliza was changing out of the modest brown tweed suit she'd been wearing and into the audacious apparel of an "It" girl. She didn't bother fussing with her hair or her makeup, just yet. This was just about finding the right dress and accessories to pull off the look. After a few minutes, she pulled back the curtain with a triumphant, "Ta da! What do you think?"

"Oh, c'est magnifique!" Ellie declared, delighted with how good Eliza looked in her shimmering beaded dress. "You look utterly delectable, Liza, good enough to eat!"

Eliza laughed at her sister-in-law's praise. "I am not so sure of that, but thank you," she said, pausing to speak to the sales clerk in French. She coughed and blanched a little when the woman told her the price.

Ellie smiled at the look on the other woman's face, happy to be able to step in and assure both clerk and sister-in-law that the price was more than fair. "You are wearing Dior, darling," she pointed out to Eliza in amusement.

"Oh," was Eliza's only response. "I, uh ... I'm sorry. I'll change out of it straightaway," she said, slinking back into the dressing room, knowing the dress was far more than she could ever hope to afford and much too expensive to expect her companion to pay for.

Ellie smiled again as Eliza slipped away, turning to the clerk to make certain that the woman would package up the dress and all accessories as soon as Eliza came back out.

"You do remember what I said about this being my treat, yes?" she called to her sister-in-law gently.

"Yes," Eliza replied, as she carefully changed back into her daytime clothes, which seemed painfully drab in comparison to the beaded and sequined dress.

"Do I need to show you my bank balance?" Ellie asked through a smile, startled when she turned to find the second assistant holding another dress up against her - teal overlaid with beaded black lace, hemmed with glossy fringe. "Did she put you up to this?" she asked the woman in flawless French, loud enough for Eliza to hear.

Eleanor Marshall

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Re: Fashionably Sisterly
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2018, 11:07:31 AM »
Eliza was heard laughing, but it was hard to tell which question amused her the most. She pushed the curtain back at last, looking like the Liza she'd been when they'd arrived again. She stepped out, the dress carefully folded over one arm. "Your turn, darling. I can't wait to see the new Ellie!"

"Are you going to select all my accessories, too?" Eleanor asked, reluctantly taking the dress from the assistant. She knew when she was outnumbered - if Eliza had convinced the staff to help, she wasn't getting out of here un-flappered.

"Tit for tat, love," Eliza replied with a grin, which was answer enough to the other woman's question. She waved a hand in the direction of the dressing room, shooing her inside. "Go on now. Quit stalling!"

"All right, all right!" Laughing, Ellie disappeared into the dressing room, acutely aware she was going to have to get her stockings and garter belt out of her trunk later in order to wear this dress anyway. Jay had convinced her to buy socks for herself in England.

Or she could just buy them anew, since they were shopping anyway, but Eliza was too unaware of the situation to suggest it. "What made you decide to start wearing pants?" she asked as she looked over the accessories, picking out a beaded necklace and matching earrings.

"Convenience in the jungle, mainly," Ellie called back, slipping from her coat, shirt, and pants as she talked. "And, well, they are remarkably comfortable once you get used to them. People do keep staring at me, though. Anyone would think they had never seen a woman's legs before!" As she spoke, the sales assistant gently took the Dior dress from Eliza's arm and began to wrap it, along with everything else Eleanor had picked out for her sister-in-law, into several parcels.

"Perhaps you'll start a new fashion trend!" Eliza remarked, as she finished picking out accessories and went to the stall to stick a hand past the curtain to hand them to Ellie. "See if you like any of these."

"Mmm ..." As she took the little bundle, Ellie set it to one side to continue dressing. "You know, I may have to go bra-less in this dress," she considered. "I'm becoming scandalous!"

Eliza laughed. Hadn't they just been talking about brassieres a short while ago? "I'm sure you'll find something that will hold it all up," she said. If nothing else, it was an excuse to visit a lingerie shop.

"I am not overly endowed in that area," Ellie admitted, pushing the curtain back and stepping out in her bare feet to find the mirror. "What do you think?"

Liza's attention strayed from the collection of jewelry she was perusing to look over at her sister-in-law as she emerged from the dressing room. "Oh!" she exclaimed, looking Ellie over from head to toe. "You look lovely, Ellie," she said, with a warm smile. "My brother is a very lucky man."

Ellie considered herself in the mirror, knowing she was already lost when it came to this purchase. "You are a very mischievous woman, Eliza Marshall," she informed her sister-in-law with a fond smile. "All right, I give in. I do need to get some stockings, though." She nodded to the clerk, slipping back into the dressing room to change back.

"When you see the look on my brother's face when he sees you in that, you will want to thank me," Liza replied with a grin. She'd seen the way her brother looked at his new wife and knew he was smitten. In her opinion, she was really doing them both a favor. Maybe they'd name their firstborn after her, she thought with a giggle. Of course, no one knew just what she was giggling about, but her.

"If you are right, we may be late for dinner," Ellie pointed out with a low laugh, far quicker to get back into her pants than she had been to get out of them. She stepped back out within minutes, gently handing the dress and accessories to the clerk. "Where would you recommend we go for lingerie, Liza?"

"Hmm, I'm not sure," Liza replied, turning to the clerk for advice. There was a smattering of French exchanged between them, before it seemed they'd agreed on a little shoppe known simply as Fifi's. Liza thanked the women for her advice, smiling over at Ellie, assuming she had followed most of what had been said between them. "Voila! There is your answer, cherie."

"Merci, mademoiselle." Smiling, Ellie rolled her eyes at Liza in amusement. "You are utterly incorrigible," she informed the other woman, withdrawing her chequebook from her purse to pay for the now wrapped parcels being placed into two separate bags for them.

"I have been called worse!" Liza said with a cheeky wink and a grin. She didn't want to think about how much this was costing the other woman or how hard it was going to be to repay her.

Of course, Liza didn't know that this was barely a drop in the ocean to Ellie, and nor would she, unless she gathered the courage to take up her sister-in-law's offer to share her bank balance. Taking the bags, Ellie handed one to Liza with a smile. "Well now, shall we find Fifi's and embarrass me further with French intimates?"

"Absolument!" Liza declared affirmatively in French, taking the bag in one hand and linking her free arm with Ellie as she lead her from the store. Fifi's was only a short walk away, and there was a cafe nearby, too, where they could get coffee and pastries.

Their visit to Fifi's was every bit as embarrassing as Ellie had expected, but did yield some lingerie that she couldn't help thinking Jay would certainly approve of. Still, she was in desperate need of that cup of coffee when they finally sat down in the cafe, still blushing as she giggled. "I have no idea if I have the courage to wear that ... basque thing this evening."

"It will be covered by your dress, Ellie," Liza reminded her, as she took a sip of her cafe. "You will thank me later," she added, with a mischievous gleam in her eyes. Or James would.

"Well, I feel sure that you and Alex are going to hit it off," Ellie replied sweetly, finally feeling her blush fade. It did not take much imagination to guess how Jay was going to react to this evening's attire. "He responds well to cheeky good humor."

"Oh, I don't know," Liza said with a frown, as she drew a finger around the rim of her cup. She didn't seem overly anxious to meet Alex or any other man, for that matter, but she had not yet said why.

Ellie considered her for a moment, and decided to take the plunge with a guess. "He also doesn't assume that every woman he meets is his for the taking," she said carefully. "He's not the sort to ... press his suit without sincere encouragement."

"We'll see, I suppose," Liza said, with a noncommittal shrug of her shoulders. She had nothing against Alex or any other man, but she'd obviously been burned once before and had no intentions of being burned again.

Ellie watched her from the corner of her eye for a long moment, turning her gaze down to her cup as she stirred in half a spoon of sugar. "What was his name?" she asked nonchalantly.

Eleanor Marshall

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Re: Fashionably Sisterly
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2018, 11:07:53 AM »
Liza was silent for a moment, as though she was reluctant to reply or perhaps she simply didn't want to speak the man's name, much less think about him. "Francois," she quietly replied after a moment, her gaze fixed on her cup of coffee.

"And was he an artist as well?" her sister-in-law asked gently, taking a slow sip of her coffee, careful not to lend any weight to the query. She didn't want to force Liza to tell her the story, but she knew that some stories needed to be told.

Liza huffed. "An artist? No, he was not an artist. He was a villain, a scoundrel, a thief - the worst kind of man." Those words were not strong enough to describe the vileness of the man and her obvious hatred of him.

"I do not think you have always felt that way about him, darling," Ellie said softly. One hand captured Eliza's in her grasp with a gentle touch.

"What does it matter how I felt about him? He is un scelerat," she said, using the French word for scoundrel. She might have used stronger words if she was not worried about offending someone. It seemed he did not just break her heart to earn such strong words.

"Liza." Ellie's voice was gentle, offering no judgment, just a willingness to listen and understand what had happened to cause so much pain in her new sister.

Eliza drew a slow breath, as though she was doing her best to keep her emotions under control. She did not want to start crying on Ellie's shoulder so soon after they'd met. She shrugged again, as if the story did not bear telling.

Setting her cup down, Ellie eased a little closer, wrapping her arm about Eliza's back as she squeezed her hand. "Darling, you will never put it to rest if you do not tell someone about it."

"I cannot tell my brother," Eliza said quietly, her fingers gripping her coffee cup a little too tightly. She didn't want Jay to know, mostly for fear of what he might do to the man if he ever ran into him, but also partly from shame. "I thought he loved me, Ellie," she said, in an even quieter voice.

"Oh, my darling ..." Ellie squeezed her gently once again, tilting her head until they were temple to temple. "He clearly did not deserve you."

"He promised he would open a gallery for my work," she explained further, trailing off as she blinked away tears. She did not dare meet Ellie's gaze, though they were so close their foreheads were nearly touching. "He took all my money, Ellie. Everything I had. I am so ashamed. How could I be so stupid?"

"You were dazzled, my darling," Ellie reminded her softly. "You were hoping for a future he promised you. How could you have known he would not deliver on such promises? It is not stupidity; it is naivete."

"He took everything," she said with a sniffle. "I have nothing left. I cannot tell Jamie. He will be so disappointed in me. Oh, Ellie, what am I to do?" she asked, lifting her head to meet Ellie's gaze, her eyes filled with tears. She did not want to accept her new sister's charity; she wanted to earn her own way, but it seemed impossible.

Eleanor considered the conundrum thoughtfully. "Do you have enough pieces for a showing?" she asked quietly, holding Eliza's gaze with soft confidence.

Thankfully, that was one thing the swindler had not taken from her, along with her pride. She nodded affirmatively. "Yes, but I have nowhere to show them. Monsieur Bernard - my teacher - he promised to choose one for his gallery, but he has not picked one yet."

"Oh, I think we can do better than just one," Ellie told her confidently. "Would you trust me to promote you, Liza? I have a title, and there are plenty of people in Paris who would accept an invitation from a lady to enjoy the debut of an artist."

Liza's eyes widened. "You would do that for me?" she asked, obviously stunned that anyone would offer to do this for her without even having seen her work.

"Why should I not?" Ellie asked her with a gentle smile. "I trust my husband's opinions, and he has told me how accomplished your art was years ago. I feel certain you have improved immeasurably now."

"Art is changing, Ellie. It changes as quickly as fashions go in and out of style. I'm afraid my work is a little old-fashioned, but I am not fond of some of the new styles," Liza explained, though she knew art was subjective. Beauty was in the eye of the beholder, after all.

Ellie's smile didn't falter. "There will always be people who prefer your style to the modern trends," she promised. "It is simply a case of making sure those people are aware of you and your artwork. I am very sure I can do that."

"But where?" Liza asked, unsure how long Ellie and James were planning on staying in Paris. Did she want to show her work here or back in London, she wondered.

"Here in Paris, darling," Eleanor assured her. "We can hire rooms, a caterer, journalists to promote the event in their newspapers. My mother taught me how to do this - trust me. If you are not happy with your income within a month, I will go bra-less in public."

Liza couldn't very well let that challenge go without a giggle. "Is that a challenge, Sister?" she asked with a smirk. It would be almost worth it to lose just to see the look on her brother's face when Ellie made good one her end of the bargain.

"I do believe it is," was Ellie's answer. "And the best part of it is that I have just challenged myself." Her smile sparkled, glad to see Liza brightening. She squeezed her new sister's hand fondly. "We'll have you recognized yet, darling."

"But what will we tell my brother?" Liza asked, looking far brighter than she had a few minutes ago, but still a little worried. "I know I should just tell him the truth, but ..." She trailed off again, a frown returning to her face.

"Liza, he will not blame you," Ellie promised her. "He will certainly not hate you, nor will he be disappointed. If he is angry, it will be with this Francois, not with you. I think it would be best if you told him, but I will keep your confidence until you do."

"I do not like to keep secrets from him," Liza said, frowning worriedly. "He is all I have left in the world," she said, though that wasn't quite true. She had a sister now, and perhaps she and Alex would become friends, too. And if Ellie's plan worked, Liza might not be a starving artist much longer.

"Then I think you and he should have lunch together tomorrow, spend the afternoon together, just the two of you," Ellie told her confidently. "I will have a few things that need to be done, and Alex can help me."

Liza nodded. "I suppose that would be a good idea," she admitted, though she knew she was going to dread it. "But not a word of it tonight. Tonight we are going to have fun, you and I," she said, with a smile. She hadn't taken her new sister shopping for nothing.

"Not a word, I promise." Ellie's smile warmed, happy to see Liza's smile returned. She lifted her cup to her lips once again, satisfied with the gentle prying she had successfully done. "And I will do that odd thing to wave my hair for tonight, as well."

Eleanor Marshall

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Re: Fashionably Sisterly
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2018, 11:08:08 AM »
Liza laughed. "Your hair is too long for that, Ellie, and I have a feeling you will refuse to bob it," she teased. In truth, she liked Ellie's hair just the way it was. Her own hair was another matter.

"I am very attached to my long hair," Ellie agreed in amusement. "But I am sure it is possible to at least mimic a bob." She reached out, gently smoothing the auburn curl that rested against Liza's cheek. "But it suits you enormously."

"Do you think so?" Liza said, smiling. She wasn't sure if the other woman was just being kind or if she was being truthful. She blushed a little at the compliment, unaccustomed to the attention. "Your hair is gorgeous. Don't cut it. Fashion is fickle. In another few years, it will change again."

"Hair grows," Ellie reminded her, but she had no intention of cutting her hair. She was far too fond of the way Jay seemed to revel in drawing his hands through her crowning glory. "I take it we will be joining in the dancing in the Ritz ballroom this evening as well, then?"

Eliza laughed. "I don't expect they'll be doing the Charleston in the Ritz ballroom, but perhaps we can bend the rules a little," she said with a wink. It was unlikely most of the women there would be wearing flapper dresses, but Liza hardly cared.

"My darling, this is France! Everything happens here," Ellie countered, sipping her coffee with a mischievous smile. "Would you like to come back to our suite to change for this evening, or would you prefer to go home to settle yourself?"

"Oh, no! I would never insinuate myself into your honeymoon suite," Liza teased. Whether it really was a honeymoon suite or not, she didn't want to intrude on her brother and his wife in their private quarters, especially considering they were newlyweds.

"Ah, you don't want to be present for the conception of your nephew or niece, I see." Ellie flashed her a teasing flicker of a grin. "Well, in that case, we'll send Alex with a car for you at around half past six."

Liza laughed. "No, as much as I would like a niece or nephew, I do not want to witness the conception." She mirrored Ellie's grin, a hint of mischief in her eyes. "Shall we finish up here, so you can get back to my brother in time for a little hanky panky before dinner?"

The blush that rose on Eleanor's cheeks was glorious to behold. "You are terrible, Eliza Marshall," she informed her sister-in-law in amused embarrassment. "Just for that, I may have to think of some way to punish you. Possibly."

"Terrible in a good way, I hope," Liza said, giving her sister in law's hand a brief pat. "You can punish me later. Let's get back before Jamie starts to worry."

"Oh, in the best possible way," Ellie assured her with a smile, leaving payment and a tip on the table as she moved to rise. "You know, I'm getting the distinct impression that you are looking after me in some way."

"And I get the distinct impression you are doing the same!" Liza said, grinning back at her new friend. She paused a moment to take a final sip of her café before sliding to her feet. "I can't wait to see what Jamie thinks of that dress!" she teased, as she reached to gather up her own packages.

"Ah, I shall have to delay the big reveal until you join us, then." Ellie giggled, shrugging into her coat before picking up her purse and packages. "Will you at least let me get you a cab home?"

Liza giggled again. "As much as I would love to see the look on his face, you don't have to do that. I'm sure he already knows that you have legs," she said, with another wink and a grin. "You're sweet, but I've been managing to find my way around Paris on my own for a while now," she pointed out at the offer of a cab.

Ellie looked reluctant, but gave in. "Very well." She leaned close, kissing Eliza's cheek gently. "I will see you tonight then, my darling. Don't forget - half past six, and there will be a strange Scotsman on your doorstep."

It was probably a good thing Ellie wasn't going to witness Liza's way of catching a ride back to her apartment, as it was going to involve a little risque show of her leg above the ankle. "Ta ta, darling!" Liza said, smooching both of Ellie's cheeks before sauntering off with a wiggle of fingers in farewell. "See you later! Have fun!"

Eleanor laughed as she waved her new sister off, rolling her eyes. Oh, yes, she could quite easily see how well she was going to get along with Jay's sister. Now she just had to convince him to let her make his sister the toast of the town for a while.

Of course, Eliza could have shared a cab with Eleanor, but in true flapper fashion, it was more fun this way. More dangerous, too, but she didn't want to think about that. With any luck, her brother wouldn't find out.

There were quite a few things Jay could live quite happily without knowing. After all, it was the '20's!