Go with the Flo(rals).

My mother had a peony bush behind the house I grew up in, a beautiful stone originally constructed around 1900.  Well — my Dad planted it there and cared for it, but it was clearly my mother’s belonging.  Or at least she always referred to it as “my peony bush,” as if saying it aloud “made it so” by sheer rhetorical force.  During peony season, she would adorn all of the tabletops in our home with tight little bunches of peonies and even occasionally float just the buds in shallow vases.

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She would also insist that I bring little bouquets in to either give to my teacher (always with a wet paper towel wrapped around the stems) or to put at the foot of Mary in the Church attached to our parochial school.  (May is the month of Mary in the Catholic Church.)  All of this is a lovely, hazy cluster of memories that come flooding back every May, when peonies become abundantly available and I find myself snapping pictures of them to send to my peony-loving mother.  But when I was growing up, I hated bringing those flowers into my teachers — I felt awkward and remember mumbling my way through some sort of explanation as I shoved them into the hands of my teacher while looking like a total kiss-up in front of all of my peers.  Worse was having to put the flowers at Mary’s feet, because that typically meant a run-in with Monsignor Montgomery, the principal of my Catholic grade school and the most terrifying individual I’d ever laid eyes on (second only to Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty).  He was an old school priest who strode formidably down the hallways a few times a day with his hands behind his back, a prie-dieu grasped in them, his black cassock flowing behind him — watching, judging, and striking fear into the hearts of children everywhere.  My parents were active in the parish, so he unfortunately knew me by name and would almost always bark at me or my brother to tuck in a shirt or to demand whether we were “keeping out of trouble.”  (As I get older, I realize he wasn’t really so bad — just an intimidating, traditional, and devoutly religious disciplinarian in a very conventional Catholic school.  But when you’re seven, there could be few figures more terrifying.)  And did you know that peonies are only able to bloom if a specific kind of ant does something to them?  (I’m totally drawing a blank on what those little suckers do, but they’re necessary for the peonies.)  Anyway, my mom would do her best to rid the blooms of those ants, but there would inevitably be a few maxing and relaxing deep in the depths of the petals that she would miss and that would in turn crawl down my shirt while in transit.  I now know I will insist that my own daughter go through the same trials and tribulations: who knew peonies could be such a character-building force?!

At any rate, when I saw this gorgeous Givenchy tote ($1,085), I fell in love.  What a perfect peony tote!

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How stunning is it?!  I instantly imagined it with a floaty summer dress ($69 — also love the solid blue):

 

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I am loving this new midi-length.  It feels so fresh to me.  I imagine throwing this over an elegant black bikini ($48 for top; $30 for bottoms — or, of course, my favorite new bikini by Marysia for $255) — and a pair of Valentino flip flops ($295 — I have this similar but slightly edgier Valentino pair with rockstuds, also $295):

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The only other accessory needed?  My favorite lip balm by Fresh in either of their new flavors, petal or tulip ($22.50):

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Some other floral goodies to consider: a breezy little tank ($45); breathtaking pumps ($620); stunning Lela Rose skirt (on sale for $777 — P.S. check out the entire Net-A-Porter sale…so good!); classic black Antigona bag ($2,345); sweet one-piece ($98); or shockingly chic and affordable tootsies ($95):

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Le sigh!  Gorgiiiine.

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