While opening holiday cards and daydreaming about spending a small fortune on a few tasty pieces of Sabbia Rosa lingerie at Barneys New York, I thought I saw a discreet note among my mail.
It read: "Our personal shoplifting experts have all the answers. Whether you need wardrobe advice, something for a special occasion, or someone to collect and deliver the items you already know you want, it's our pleasure to take care of you. And, the bill never comes!
"There is a modest charge for this service, but we think you'll be pleased with the ease and convenience of not having to fight the holiday crowds. Why dirty your hands when you can pay others to do it?"
The horizons of my wish list instantly expanded. Maybe my personal shoplifter could get an antique clock from Maxfield that anyone would love. At Bloomies, a Donna Karan beaded twin set for my sister (about $1,300, but who's counting?). Mark Cross' very masculine poker set in a handsome burl box.
My reverie abruptly ended when I spied a sobering newspaper photo of the affluent Minnesota couple who engaged a similar service. They're now contemplating shopping for prison PJs.
Homemade low-fat brownies suddenly seem like a wonderful gift.
Smell Check: Midway through an evening of holiday parties, after a cocktail bash or two and before a midnight dessert affair, you drop into a cigar bar. (For a breather? Hardly). Inevitably, you exit with clothes and hair stinking of tobacco. Don't you just hate it when that happens? The idea of arriving at the night's final stop reeking of smoke is as appealing a way to attract attention as wearing a very bright and shiny nose.
But help is now available, in the form of Angel hair spray, which promises to perfume your locks with the popular Thierry Mugler scent while repelling unpleasant smells. Angel hair spray purportedly lifts and neutralizes food, smoke or pollution odors in hair and replaces them with Angel's distinctive fragrance, a blend of vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate and other non-floral essences. A purse-size container is sold exclusively at Nordstrom.
Real Fakes: Proof that style is often a matter of smoke and mirrors can be found in the proliferation of reproductions of imitation pearl necklaces since the auction of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' estate earlier this year.
The 60-inch glass simulated pearl rope and earrings that costume jewelry designer Carolee purchased for $81,000 at Sotheby's have been displayed at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, where $175 copies can be purchased.
The Franklin Mint store in Beverly Hills sells a $195 copy of single-strand pearls, which the company snapped up for $211,500.
How would Jackie feel about her costume jewelry becoming so precious? In a phone interview from his New York City home, Edward Klein, author of "All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy (PocketBooks, 1996), said: "She was very simple in the last 10 years of her life. . . . She liked to throw on a set of fake pearls and go out to lunch and not worry about something valuable being lost or stolen."
Women with similar sentiments can leave their heavy artillery in the vault, and wear authentic duplicates of Jackie's real faux jewels.